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by Sharon Schweitzer, Culture & Etiquette Coach
As more folks are headed to work mixers, neighborhood cookouts, and soccer games with the kiddos, we are receiving questions about making conversation. What are the best ways to introduce yourself and others in a social or work gathering? How do you keep the conversation going? Our best tips and tricks are below.
- Be prepared to stand for all introductions with men and women.
- Introduce yourself with your first and last name. “Hello, my name is Tanya Rivera. I am a lifestyle reporter on “2 Wants to Know” with WFMY in Greensboro, NC.”
- Make eye contact with the first person you are speaking with and then as you speak to the second person, make eye contact with them as well.
- When making introductions speak clearly using polite language.
- When introducing others, four options include “May I introduce Tanya Rivera,” “I would like to introduce Tanya Rivera” “It is my pleasure to introduce…” “I’d like for you to meet…” A formal introduction is “May I present Tanya Rivera.”
- Be mindful of Names & Titles.
- With a generational difference or in a formal situation, default to courtesy titles and last names: “Ms. Sharon Schweitzer, I’d like you to meet Dr. Patrick Smith” provides the opportunity for Ms. Schweitzer to invite Dr. Smith to call her by her first name.
- Keep in mind that in informal situations and with colleagues, the best practice is to use first and last names: “Tanya, meet Sharon Schweitzer, our new board member. Sharon, this is Tanya, our brilliant lifestyle reporter.”
- Children are taught to refer to adults by their titles of Mr, Ms, or Dr, unless an adult requests a first name. In the south “Ms. or Mr.” and a first name is customary.
- Introduce other family members by their full names and include the family relationship: “Aunt Marilynn, may I introduce Marci Anderson. Marci, this is my great-aunt, Marilynn Henry.”
- When introducing one or two people to a small group, mention the group members first, to gain their attention: “Ted, Paul, Eric, I would like to introduce Lee Cooke. Lee, I would like you to meet Ted Schwartz, Paul Butte, and Eric Lutz.”
- Add a conversation starter. Mention a topic that the two people have in common: “Tanya, you and Sharon share an interest in Costa Rica. Tanya might enjoy hearing about your recent trip to Quepos and Los Suenos.”
How to Keep the Conversation Going:
- Preload dialogue: Be informed with relevant conversation topics by beginning your morning reading news that impacts your world, whether that’s WSJ, NYT, Skimm, or local news. Check 2022’s Nobel Prize winners, and your bookstore’s Top 100 Bestsellers for potential subjects. Have pleasant convo starters for intriguing dialogue.
What are your favorite conversation starters or helpful tips? Please share in the comments below!
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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