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Author Topic: Introducing People  (Read 4194 times)

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Introducing People
« on: January 29, 2013, 10:20:21 AM »
A few weeks ago I was reading something and it was mentioned that the proper format of introducing someone when you plan to provide their relationship to you is to say the person's name first and then the relationship.  That is because you want to put the emphasis on their name as their relationship to you is of secondary importance.  This all makes sense.  And even though I've known this rule, reading it had it in the for front of my mind.

A few days later I was at an event with several family members and a friend and I was the only one in my group who knew the guests so was doing the majority of the introductions.
"Dave, this is Ann, my sister"
"Sue, this is Charles, my husband"

But what I noticed as others were introducing people to me, the information that stayed with me was the last thing said.  So if Dave said,
"Hmmmmm, this is Tina, my cousin" I'm now thinking about this being his cousin and not so much that her name is Tina. 

I think my brain works on the FIFO method, first in first out.  ;)

I'm horrible at names and try to resolve the issue by immediately repeating the person's name to try to get it to stick but if I'm being introduced to a group as in "This is Tina, my cousin, Timothy, her son, and Tommy, her husband" I'm know focusing on their relationships and not their names and may not get the chance to repeat their names. 

So how important is this rule to you when you are being introduced? 

Do you find having the name given to you first is the best way for you to remember it? 

Also, do you find it rude to not provide relationship context when being introduced by someone.  I had 4 family members with me and one friend.  At times when new people (there were around 25 guests at this event) would come up, I would just say
"Helen, I'd like for you to meet Ann, John, Bill, and Lisa.  And this is Charles, my husband."
At one point, Ann, my sister, asked me why I didn't tell Helen my relationship.  Well, primarily because it really wasn't germaine to anything. Helen is just an acquaintance and probably doesn't care who my relatives are. However, it is likely my DH and I will encounter Helen again so it makes sense to me to clarify that relationship.  But is it wrong to not always indicate familial  relationships?   


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Re: Introducing People
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2013, 10:38:32 AM »
This is entirely situational.  Generally, I explain relationship to me and name, but not necessarily in any particular order.  "This is my boyfriend Jake" or "you remember Sally, my friend from hometown."


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Re: Introducing People
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 10:40:11 AM »
"This is my sister, Hmmmmm" seems grammatically smoother than "This is Hmmmmm, my sister".   Also, in your example, if the relationship is last spoken I might get confused: does "cousin" refer to Timothy or to Tina?  Written, I can see what you meant, but a quick introduction, I'd get lost ;).

And I'm the same way-it's less embarrassing to ask "How are you related to Hmmmm?" than to ask someone's name (at least it is to me).  So for me, I like to hear the name last.

In the last example, yes, I include relationships whether or not the people are going to encounter one another again.  I don't know if there's a "rule", though.


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Re: Introducing People
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 04:30:41 PM »
I actually like to hear the relationship first, because that helps me create a mental "file folder" in which to put the name.

And like you, the last part registers. Honestly, I don't get too focused on the minutia of introductions.


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Re: Introducing People
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2013, 09:25:38 AM »
It might help to make the introduction in two sentences. 

'Jane, I'd like you to meet Draco.  We're cousins'.

For me, the pause allows both the name and the relationship sink in more easily.


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Re: Introducing People
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 11:47:41 AM »
I don't think the fact that the relationship comes last is the reason why we remember it.  It's because it's just easier to remember. Dave?  There are Daves everywhere.  And just looking at him, he could just as well be a Mike or a Todd.  But the fact that he's with Susie, whom you know, puts him somewhere on your mental map.


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Re: Introducing People
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 12:12:20 PM »
I've never heard this rule. I think it is at best completely irrelevant (as no one will know you are doing it) and at worst counter-productive.

I agree with TootsNYC about the file folder idea. When I'm being introduced to people I need to categorize them. I need to know where they live on my flowchart of people. If you tell me the relationship first I can mentally walk to the location on the flowchart, pen poised to write their name in my head in the appropriate location. It also gives me a clue how significant this person should be to me. I think at the instant of hearing the name we try to lock in information about that person and associate it with the sound of the name - if the name comes first we have zero information to try to lock in. Locking in the concept of the name on hearing 'my sister' just doesn't work as well in our brains.

All that being said, I think the difference in order is extremely minor, and not something anyone should ever stress over. It's interesting from a 'how our brains work' perspective, but I don't think there ought to be any etiquette rules about this one way or another.


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Re: Introducing People
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 01:57:00 PM »
Well, I'm glad no one else feels the need to say the relationship first is necessary because it felt very awkward to me when I was saying it that way.