How to Make an Old Fashioned Introduction. (According to Emily Post)

How to make an introduction is the sort of thing that people would have known how to do years ago but like a lot of useful etiquette, we’ve kind of let the ball drop.  Unless you’re royalty. Then you probably know how to make an introduction AND cover up a scandal. Here’s the proper way to introduce two people.

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

I have used the phrase “How do you do?” exactly once in my life. The year was 1989.   I was on a cruise ship, somewhere just shy of  Panama. This particular evening, all guests dining in the formal dining room were introduced to the ship’s Captain. When it was my turn to be introduced to him, for some completely unknown reason, the phrase “How do you do?” popped out of my mouth.

It was as though for a moment I thought I was Gloria Vanderbilt being introduced to the Queen on the set of Dynasty.

The only time I remember something equally awkward coming out of my mouth was in grade 9, in the gymnasium of my highschool.  As Duncan MacIntyre sauntered past me …  I said, Greetings.  A word that normally ends with … earth people and is only uttered by Mork from Ork.

Back to the matter at hand; introductions. The whole point of proper etiquette is to keep everyone at ease. They’re like the rules of the road for social situations. So if you’re having a New Year’s Eve party this year or going to one, this little etiquette tip on how to introduce people might come in handy.

Over the years we’ve become quite casual about introductions.  So casual that I have no idea how to do one.  I can bumble through the introduction of 2 people if I have to, but I’m never sure who I’m supposed to introduce to whom.  I’m not even sure if that’s the proper use of whom.   So I whipped out my trusty 14th Edition of Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette and opened it up to page 1.  THAT is how important giving a proper introductions is; the subject of The Basic Rules of Introductions is covered on the very first page of the book.

 

ANY CHARA CTER HERE

According to Ms. Post, it’s all very easy.  All you have to remember is the fact that introductions are based on who is more important than who.  Or whom.  For instance:

Women always rank above menUnless the man is the President of the United States, the head of another country, a member of a royal family, a church official, or an older man in a high position such as a governor.”.   Translated into today’s society I imagine that would also include any male cast member of The Curse of Oak Island.

An Older Person always ranks above a younger person.  No mention of royalty here by Ms. Post.  For instance, what do you do if you’re introducing an older woman to a young member of royalty?  Oops.  My head just exploded.

A More Important Person always ranks over a Less Important Person.  Emily does mention that this can be tricky sometimes.  For instance a physician would rank over a garbage man.  Unless a garbage strike was going on I imagine.

There are 2 ways to introduce people.  The first involves using the actual phrase  “I’d like to introduce you to …”.   When this phrase is used, the “lower ranked” person is always introduced to the “higher ranked” person.  As in:

Let’s say I have 2 friends.  Mark my boyfriend and Kathy my longtime friend.  Mark may be more important to me, but Kathy is a woman, so Kathy gets the honour of being considered the more important person.

  • Mark, I’d like to introduce you to my good friend Kathy.   Kathy, this is my boyfriend Mark.   (Mark being lower ranked, because he is a man and Kathy is a woman)
  • Kathy, I’d like to introduce you to author, businesswoman, entrepreneur, star of the runaway but not cancelled hit television show Jersey Shore, Snooki.  Snooki … this is my good friend Kathy;  she also drinks and falls down a lot.  (It’s also helpful after an introduction to mention something the 2 people have in common)

In this case both are women, but Snooki is “higher ranked” because she throws up on television.  Better yet, she has people throw up on her, on television.  Honestly. It’s the truth.  Watch Season 1 of Jersey Shore if you don’t believe me.  Emily Post would be startled by these people.

So when you use the phrase, “introduce you to”,  with “to” as a preposition, the most important person is mentioned last.  Gosh.  Ms. Post was right.  This really is easy.  Oops.  My head just exploded again.

The other way to introduce people is by losing the preposition “to”.  In this case you say the name of the person who is more important first.  As in …

1.  Kathy (highest ranked ’cause she’s a woman) , I’d like you to meet my boyfriend Mark.  Mark … Kathy is my good friend.

2.  Snooki (highest rank ’cause she’s more important), I’d like you to meet my good friend Kathy.  Kathy … Snooki is a reality television star.

Most important to remember is when NOT to introduce people.  As noted by Ms. Emily Post …

 

So, basically, if you think one person might raise an eyebrow at being introduced to another person … don’t do it.   If you think one person might punch the other person, don’t do it.  If you think one person might throw up on the other person, don’t do it.

I know this all seems confusing.  And it is.  Which is why no one properly introduces anyone to anyone anymore.  This basic downfall of society is also what led us to things like the Jersey Shore and throwing up on each other as a form of introduction.

I’ll try and simplify things here.  Just remember this, and you’ll be O.K.:


How to Make an Introduction

Say the “most important” person’s name first, followed by the “lesser important” person.  Acceptable phrases are “like you to meet”, “have you met”, “do you know”, and the most popular and simplest of them all … a favourite of Ms. Post … “this is”.  As in:

Mr. Prime Minister (most important because he’s the Prime Minister), this is Member of Parliament Filomena Tassi.  

Ms. Morgan (most important cause they’re your boss), this is our latest Avon sales associate, Lisa.  

Mom (older and a woman), this is my boss Mr. Jinglebottom.  (since my mother doesn’t work with me, she being a woman,  ranks over my boss … the man)

Michelle (older), this is my niece Kiki (younger).

(in business situations the ranking of women over men doesn’t apply)

Quick reminder:  If you’re going to use the phrase “I’d like to introduce you to” … all hell breaks loose and the names are reversed, with least important being first and most important being second.  

So, like this:

Kiki, I’d like to introduce you to Michelle.

I find a damp rag, some Ajax and a clothing steamer is the best way to clean up an exploded  head.  In case you were wondering.

Thank you to Emily Post for her help.  (Always thanking people is a sign of good etiquette.  Even if their help wasn’t very helpful at all.)  I can’t wait for your thank you’s to start rolling in …

 

→Reader? I’d like to introduce you to Instagram Instagram, this is my reader.←

 

How to Make an Old Fashioned Introduction. (According to Emily Post)

71 Comments

  1. Becky says:

    So Instagram is more important than your reader? Hmm…

  2. Gayle M says:

    So… is it impolite thsn to interrupt a conversation to say, “And I’m his wife Gayle”? (After we walk up to my mil and her three cousins and she reaches past me to take him by the arm telling “I want you to meet my oldest son Mike” and she immediately engages them in conversation? First family reunion event.)

    Just wondering…cuz I was taught not to be disrespectful to my elders.

  3. Deb says:

    I was most interested to see how you would make this confounding social conundrum funny – you did not disappoint!!! But, since I’m of the school that nobody is more “ important” than anyone else (‘Sorry, Miss Post), I usually choose the order of names alphabetically!😂. That is, if I can even remember both names!!!😱

  4. Bethany Jones says:

    I mistakenly read, “How to Make an Old Fashioned.”

    Frankly, I could use a drink.

  5. Mia Pratt says:

    So…when I leave the hermitage of my art studio to take my dog to the dog park, which is THE social center of our village…I must ask this; since my dog is a mixed breed rescue and many other dogs out there are purebred and pedigreed, I would assume I would have to say upon our encounter with a high-ranking dog, “Sir Raleigh” (since Sir Raleigh wears a diamond-studded collar), “this is Blanco; and I am his person, Mia.” …what with me being his humble person and Blanco being the star runner of the dog park, placing me below Blanco, and Blanco below Sir Raleigh of the Diamond-Studded collar; and to close out, I guess I would then say, “Blanco, this is Sir Raleigh.” However, I still have one question…is it ever ok for lowly staff (like me) to introduce two-higher ups to each other? Or should one just remain in the background while butts are sniffed, with eyes diverted as per the scullery maid in Upstairs Downstairs when encountering royalty on the stairs, and allow the two social superiors to introduce themselves?🤣

      • Marjorie Kramer says:

        The blog is funny. But, I just tried to read this response out loud to my husband (who was wondering what I was laughing about.) I could not do it. I ended up laughing so hard, tears welled up in my eyes, but I think he got the gist of it. He’s laughing now, too. Thanks for the belly laugh, both Karen and Mia!

  6. Patricia says:

    I think the most helpful part of your post (as opposed to Emily’s Post) is to mention the more important person’s name first. That is simple and I can remember that. For years I have known that you introduce the more important person, or older, or woman….. first, and I mentally could make arguments both ways as to how that would be accomplished. Thank you for examples!!!

  7. Jessie says:

    All I want to know is, WHO IS MARK?!

  8. Robert says:

    My wife (of fifty years – yes 50) and I have a practice if I can’t remember a person’s name but introductions are needed.

    It goes something like this – “hi there, I’d like to introduce you to my wife Katherine”

    Katherine, picking up the cue, extends her hand and says, “hi, I’m Kath” to which the heretofore nameless person responds with “hi, I’m Tom (Whomever)”, at which point bells ring in my head and I say something inane like, “hey Tom, how’s it going?” – thank god for wives! And all women for that matter!

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      And thank god you remember your wife’s name. 😏

    • T King says:

      Oh my God, that”‘ what I do too!!!! I have a HORRIBLE time remembering names, and I am completely without etiquette because of that. I try to avoid introductions at all costs. Luckily, introducing my husband or friend saves me every time.

  9. For a while my husband thought it very sophisticated to introduce me as “Tricia, my second wife.” He stopped when I just once introduced him as “Stefan, my first husband.”

  10. Von says:

    If I were going to introduce the president of the United States to someone…well, I just wouldn’t. I wouldn’t give that p.o.s. the courtesy of introducing him to a zucchini.

    In any other situation, I am happy if I can remember both person’s names. I think I usually say the name of the person I’ve known longer first, then the other person. Mum, {name} this is my neighbour {name}, then I repeat both names, while waving my hand between their faces for some reason. It’s the thought that counts.

    I’m a short-time lurker. Your blog post came up when I was Googling which salt and pepper shaker had which number of holes. I use grinders for both, but a friend had sent me piggy shakers because I collect pigs. I’m enjoying your blog, and am currently making my way through the Archives. My finding a new enjoyable, informative, and funny blog seems to be the kiss of death. Please stick around.

  11. Dana Studer says:

    My husband always accidentally on purpose forgets to introduce me. We’ve covered this topic many, many times in our 29 yrs. He never remembers names-even
    coworkers-so that is why he rarely introduces me. I’m not sure what to do so I stand there like a potted plant. “Coworker, I’d like to introduce you to my wife, Potted Plant” doesn’t sound good. Does Ms. Post address what to do if one cannot remember names?

    • Kat O says:

      As someone who’s also horrible with names and mortified during introductions, the best thing you can do for your husband is introduce yourself! You say, “hi, I’m so-and-so” and they say “hi, I’m so-and-so” and your husband is grateful because now he’s been reminded of their name as well, and he says “I’m so sorry, I’m terrible with introductions!” and everyone moves on.

  12. Benjamin Hepple says:

    🤯

  13. Jackie says:

    Miss Post would certainly be left clutching her pearls if she ever saw an episode of Jersey Shore!

  14. Jaimee says:

    Somehow post-2016 this seems more quaint and hopeless than ever. Thanks for the social history, though.

  15. roy says:

    Can we perhaps, make this a lot easier by following a General Rule, that Women ALWAYS rank higher than men, business or otherwise? I think this should be ‘the rule’ not just in conversation but also in any situation. For instance man should open door for a Lady, draw chairs for her, listen very patiently her views (even if they are wrong), have conversation in a pleasing manner so that it gravitates about her interests and desires. In presence of Wife, always rank her the Highest, no matter, who is sitting next in the row, can be any man, president or high official. Only exception to this rule would be for mother,sister,cousins or any female relative for that matter.

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  17. Bre says:

    I think I shall make a point of asking “How do you do?” at the next opportunity. And I shall enunciate. If I can remember. And should I be asked that same question, is it rude to answer with, “Charmed, I’m sure” or even better, “Enchantée”? If I can remember.

  18. Bonnie says:

    Karen,

    Two things about introductions:
    1. My problem is not the formality. My problem is that as soon as I start to introduce people, I experience a mental block and forget their names. Even if they are people I have known for a long time! Like, “I’d like to introduce you to my sister,___________.” Awkward! There must be a name for this disorder.
    2. Just so you know, if ever we are in a room together with anyone cast member of the Jersey Shore, I do not want to be introduced. And, I am feel that they would feel “Mutual, I’m sure.”

  19. Sherry says:

    Thanks Karen, this was fun… I love Bridgette Jones Diary version of the introduction – always make me laugh
    I would also like to know the etiquette on introducing x’s – you know like at weddings – like my daughter’s wedding coming up next year… ugh! She’s worried I’ll make a fool of myself, but I say, just don’t invite them :), I’m a woman and by far the most important!

    • Sandra D says:

      I just say this is “(name of daughter)’s” father. They’ll get the message.

      Although, I agree it would be more comfortable not to have to introduce him.

  20. Stephen says:

    There was an Avengers episode where a very British assassin wouldn’t kill someone (probably with a tightly rolled umbrella) until they’d been properly introduced.

  21. Ana says:

    I go the Bridget Jones route and introduce people by telling them a small fact about the other. As in:

    “Joe, this is Karen. She just recently took up smoking. Karen, Joe is an ardent believer in the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.”

  22. Carol says:

    I won’t even ask what the modern day etiquette is for introducing couples, that’s when my head explodes.

  23. Denise says:

    Is there a chapter in the book on remembering the name of the person you are introducing to or if there is more than one person and you don’t know everyone…happend to me! I agree with Tina, I let someone do it! I have to pick and choose my head explosions.

  24. Alexandra says:

    So before I read the rest of your post, I had to chime in with my own awkward word vomit story. We were playing BrainQuest once in the 7th grade, and the teacher asked for the shortened version of the word “condominium.” I instantly raised my hand and shouted “condom.” Hmm. That doesn’t sound right. Everyone around me burst into laughter and I had to think about it for a good long minute before I realized that the shortened version of condominium is actually “condo.” A condom is a different thing entirely.

    I did get a piece of candy for embarrassment.

    Now on to read the rest of your post.

    Okay, how about I just point to one and then the other, and then just let them work it out between themselves. I think I need to write a new etiquette book for people (like me) with a bad memory who are bound to screw things (like introductions) up very badly.

    THANK YOU, KAREN!!!!!! :D

  25. Brenda says:

    Karen, thanks for including that you should share a tidbit that the two newly acquainted have in common. Sometimes people need that little springboard to start conversation with a new friend. We’re not always out to solve the problems of the world, people…let’s get back to some good old-fashioned chit chat and get our noses out of our IPhones.
    THERE!!! I said it!!
    Happy Monday, and have a great week!
    Brenda

  26. Tina says:

    Karen, thank you for confusing the crap out of me. Now I will never introduce anyone to anyone else………it’s easier that way.

  27. Julie shinnick says:

    *BOOOM*

  28. mary says:

    I always want to say “How do I do what?” when asked How do you do… I’m sure that’s not right, though; thank goodness I had the introductions hierarchy figured out… I do need the “to” in there though to keep it all straight.

  29. Amy says:

    My favorite introduction greeting is the only line I remember from “White Christmas” (Besides the Sisters song): “Mutual, I’m sure”–with an exaggerated drawl.

    The best part about it is that that character uses it in response to any introduction, even when the person she just met asks “How do you do?” and does not say “Nice to meet you.”

    • Karen says:

      Amy – Sisters, Sisters … there were never such devoted sisters! LOVE that song. LOVE that movie! ~ karen

      • Amy says:

        Mutual, I’m Suurrree!!

        “Lord help the man who comes between me and my sister, and lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!”

      • danni says:

        I had that song stuck in my head all day yesterday and today, can’t let Christmas end without seeing that movie… Watched it late after throwing everyone out Christmas night… “she wore the dress, and I stayed home”

  30. sharon says:

    Isn`t Jersey Shore the guy that plays the piano in some lounge in El Segundo?

    • Karen says:

      Sharon – I have no idea if you’re kidding or not so I’ve supplied you with this … Jersey Shore Trailer. A very small look at the guys and gals from The Jersey Shore. ~ karen!

  31. Kelly says:

    I always enjoy your blog but don’t often comment. However, I can’t pass up the opportunity to comment on the Jersey Shore reference. OMG. Just to show I am cool with two teenage daughters. I have certainly had moments of feeling completely out of touch with current teenage culture but for the most part I get it. But that show is the most ludicrous thing I have seen. Honestly, how can people think that is an intelligent way to behave. Do I sound like a middle aged mother? If the Martians were watching Jersey Shore they wouldn’t even think of coming back to look further for signs of intelligent life. Anyway, thanks Karen for a totally enjoyable blog.

    • linda in illinois says:

      Agree completely. 90 day fiance ranks up there next.. LUDICROUS !! Many more in today’s society ranks there as well. The world went nuts.

  32. Korrine says:

    Wow. Can we get some sort of a table or chart explaining who is more important than whom(?)? And…thank you!

  33. Amy Schmucker says:

    IF I wasn’t confused before, I am completely baffled now. By the way, “Hi, I am Amy. I love reading your stuff that you do.” I always introduce myself because Americans are just rude and never RSVP or Introduce people. I would love a post on RSVP because NO one does it and it means “Please respond, thank you so much.” However it should mean “If you can’t come please call me and let me know or I shall hunt you down and throttle you.”
    Just my opinion.

    • Kate says:

      Perfect timing of this conversation…in making bday party invitations for my daughter’s upcoming party, she looked at the “Kindly RSVP” part and asked what it meant. I told her and she said, “well, shouldn’t you just write that on there, so the will know what it means” and I told her that all moms know what it means. She didn’t believe me…and I fear she may be correct!

      Manners never do go out of style and I am so glad to see them being talked about again.

      I really appreciate the refresher on the introductions because we just moved to a new state and have been doing a lot of that these past few months.

  34. marilyn says:

    and i do thank you karen because as you know good manners never go out of style!

  35. Jan says:

    This reminds me of a funny story: My father opened our front door and greeted his work associate. Since my brother was only four, he said, “Heinz, I’d like you to meet my son Craig” whereby Craig promptly kicked him in the shin. Being a well-bred gentleman himself, Heinz replied, “That’s ok, son, I have another leg.” Craig then kicked him in the other shin! Lesson: Sometimes even the best of manners can’t help a situation!

  36. Jacque says:

    Karen,

    Thank you for the wonderful etiquette lesson today. I had the pleasure of observing this lesson from my living room over a cup of tea and slice of whole wheat toast, butter and jelly.

    With warmest regards,
    That one girl

  37. Amie says:

    Ha! Love it. Did the Captain say ‘How do you do’ back to you? It’s considered very rude to actually answer the question.

  38. Janelle says:

    Q; In business situations the ranking of women over men doesn’t apply, but does the “higher ranked person” rule still apply, regardless of gender? For example, if you’re in a business situation and Sally is a CEO and Biff is the new mail boy, would you introduce Sally to Biff because she is higher ranked, or the other way around because the “women first” rule doesn’t apply in business?

    • Karen says:

      Janelle … it would go like this. Either …

      Sally, this is Biff, our new mail boy. or
      Biff, I’d like to introduce you to Sally, the president of the company. (because you are using the preposition “to”, the most important person comes second)

      Women rank over men in all situations, except business where they are equal. In a business situation, rank would also overrule age. So if Biff is older than Sally, in a social situation the introduction would be reversed. In a business situation, even if Biff is older, Sally still ranks higher as the boss. Phew.

  39. Sharon Woo says:

    Thank you! I had a damn good chuckle at you saying Greetings to a cute boy in high school. Man that is dorky!!

  40. Rebecca says:

    I read that whole book at the cottage this summer (a really old edition with crazy old-fashioned stuff) and I don’t remember a goddamn thing. I guess I’m just a Neanderthal. However, in my defence, I rarely have the opportunity to practise such skills as proper calling card etiquette, so I’m a bit rusty on that one.

    By the way, I believe it’s, “I’m never sure ‘whom’ I’m supposed to introduce to ‘whom’.” But I don’t know where the hell the quotation marks, comma and period are supposed to go in that last sentence, so I wouldn’t count on me!

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