The Etiquette Edge

Business Etiquette


Every day we encounter people in a variety of business and social situations. The way we meet and greet them creates lasting impressions and paves the way for a productive encounter. Introductions project information. Besides the obvious elements of name, title, and affiliation, an introduction conveys a level of respect and reflects how the person making the introduction views the other person’s status. Mastering the art of the introduction will help put you and the people you are introducing at ease. Learning the basics ?and they are not very difficult ?is the first step.


































The way you respond to someone else’s introduction is just as important as making the introduction.


The most important point about introductions is to make them. Failing to do so causes embarrassment and discomfort. If given a choice, most people would prefer you to make the introduction incorrectly, even if you forgot their name, rather than stand there unacknowledged and disregarded.

A second important point in any introduction is the order of names. The name of the person being introduced is mentioned last, and the person to whom the introduction is made is mentioned first. The rules for who is introduced to whom depends on whether it’s a business or a social introduction.

Business Introductions: In business, introductions are based on power and hierarchy. Simply, persons of lesser authority are introduced to persons of greater authority. Gender plays no role in business etiquette; nor does it affect order of introductions.

For example, you would say, “Mr. /Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce Mr./Ms. Lesser Authority.’’ However, the person holding the highest rank may not be Mr./Ms. Greater Authority. A client, for instance, always takes precedence over anyone in your organisation.

Social Introduction: Social etiquette is based on chivalry, so both formal and informal introductions are made according to age, then gender, and then social status. The man would be introduced to the woman in a social situation unless the man is obviously a great deal older, in which case one would defer to age over gender. For example, if both persons are of the same generation, you would say, “Mrs. Pathak, I’d like to introduce Mr. Khan.?But, if the woman is considerably younger, you would say, “Mr. Raj, this is my daughter Shana.?br>
“As you make the introduction, include a brief but meaningful piece of information about each of the people to explain their uniqueness or importance.?/i> Samita is the PR consultant who helped me get all that coverage in the national press. Bobby is the photographer whose work you admired in my office, Samita. “Never qualify a description by saying “my best client?or “my dearest friend?because the automatic implication is that the other person holds a lower position in your personal hierarchy. When in doubt, be less personal rather than more personal.

The Nuances: As you say each of the individuals?names, look at him or her. In this way, you focus attention on them and make them feel important while appearing to be in control. Once a conversation has begun and everyone seems at ease, you may excuse yourself.

When introducing relatives to other people, always clarify their relationship to you; it avoids any possible faux pas that could result from inadvertent comments. Never refer to your own spouse as Mr. or Mrs. in a social introduction. Simply saying “Mathew, my husband,?or “Kitty, my wife?is sufficient. However, if the woman has kept her maiden name, she should include the husband’s surname with some emphasis on it.

Introducing Yourself: If no one introduces you, step in and introduce yourself. Someone may be too embarrassed to admit forgetting a name or may be distracted by other matters.

Feeling slighted because you were not introduced only puts you at a disadvantage. Introduce yourself by extending your hand, smiling and saying something like, “I’m Smita, Sachin’s partner.?Avoid making any comment such as “Sangeeta works for me?that might be misconstrued as arrogance or superiority. Instead, say, “Sangeeta and I work in the same office.?br>
As a guest, it’s your duty to circulate and introduce yourself at any function, large or small, especially if the host or hostess is busy. The fact that you are both there is sufficient justification to introduce yourself to anyone at the gathering. By only sticking to those people you already know, you’ll never expand your horizons or make new acquaintances.

Always use both names when introducing yourself to convey the massage that you take yourself seriously as an adult and expect the same treatment from others. And, since you don’t know how comfortable the other person feels with formality or lack of it, you give that person the chance to set the tone most comfortable to them.

At any business meet, always introduce yourself to the people sitting next to you to open the way for conversation. Not introducing yourself can cost you a valuable business lead because few people want to deal with someone who comes across as aloof or unsavvy.

Responding to Introductions: The way you respond to someone else’s introduction is just as important as making the introduction. In response to informal introductions, simply say “hello? Add a phrase like, “I’ve heard so much about you, Bhavesh,?only if it is true and if it is complimentary. Beware of phrases like, “Pleased to meet you?because that may not be true after only a few minutes of conversation.

“How do you do??followed by the person’s name is the customary response to a formal introduction. Refrain from the use of first names until the person to whom you’ve been introduced has indicated that the familiarity is preferred.

Remembering Names: If you forget someone’s name when making an introduction, try putting the other people at ease rather then concentrating on your own embarrassment.

Remain calm; if you fall apart, the person whose name you forget may feel obliged to put you at ease, compounding your faux pas. Be straightforward yet tactful in admitting your memory lapse.

By saying, “I’ve forgotten your name,?you imply the person wasn’t worth remembering. ?I’ve just drawn a blank,?or “my memory seems to be malfunctioning?connotes a more temporary condition that doesn’t have the same insulting implications. If you can’t remember someone’s name, but you remember an interesting point about them, cite it. You might say, “I clearly remember our conversation about Thai food, but your name seems to have temporarily slipped my mind. Please help me out.?/i>

Then, whatever happens, get off the subject of the memory lapse and onto something more interesting to everyone. Profuse apologies only make everyone uncomfortable. The sooner you forget about it, the sooner everyone else will?and the happier everyone will be.

When you’re introduced to someone, say the person’s name, then repeat it several times during the conversation. Not only do you project a genuine interest in someone by repeating their name, but the repetition is more likely to imprint the name on your memory. When someone seems to have forgotten your name, just jump in, hand outstretched, a smile on your face, and offer your name.

Introducing a Guest Speaker: Prior to the event, have the speaker supply background information and ask how he or she prefers to be introduced. Keep the introduction short but enthusiastic, giving the speaker’s name, credibility on the subject and the title of the presentation. Then ask the audience to join you in welcoming the speaker and begin the applause. Don’t alienate the audience by informing them that they’ll learn something. And, don’t undermine the speaker by talking so much about the topic yourself that you give part of the presentation.

Now that you have a better understanding of meeting and greeting people, heed Lord

Beaverbrook’s admonition, “Be fearless and each day you must meet someone new.?/i>

Your responsibility as a guest and host!

First, a guest is punctual and does not pay surprise visits. Guests also do not make themselves more comfortable in someone else’s office than the host. And they don’t ever take someone else’s space by spreading papers all over the person’s desk. And, they don’t place a handbag or briefcase on it. Guests also do not overstay their welcome. When your scheduled time is up, don’t assume the host’s schedule is so flexible it can accommodate you for another hour. Reschedule if you need more time. Believe me, if the host is really interested in what you’re selling and has the time to hear more, he or she will let you know.

The host’s responsibility is to greet the guest and to make the visitor feel comfortable. If you’re busy, have your secretary go out to reception to bring the visitor to your office. Then, get up and come around from the desk to shake hands with the person. Indicate where you would like the person to sit. The host leads the visitor. When the meeting is over, the host is responsible for bringing the meeting to a close, summarising what was covered and what action is to be taken. Then the host escorts the visitor to the elevator or out of the office. Never leave visitors to find their own way. Not only is it rude, it jeopardises security.

... to be continued ?Radhika Warriar (NEE REGE)