Key Point: When I feel insecure in a new group and/or situation, I sometimes prop myself up. I start to include titles or accomplishments, drop names or “facts” when I really don’t need to. My introduction then becomes more about me and less about who I’m meeting. I don’t do that as much these days, but when I’m feeling a little vulnerable I have to work hard to consciously remember that I’m just fine as who I am in the context. I have to be in the moment with my new acquaintance. Do you really have a clear process for connecting with others for the first time?
The following is a summary of a few great guidelines by Jeff Haden for effectively introducing ourselves to new people and/or into new situations. It was published in Inc. Magazine and I wish someone would have coached me on this earlier in my life. So this is for you to share with others who may benefit from this perspective.
Less as more.
Brief introductions are always best. Provide the bare minimum the other person likely wants or needs to know initially. This is not to maintain distance, but because during a conversation more about us can be revealed in a natural, unforced, and therefore much more memorable way.
Stay in context.
If we meet another parent at a school meeting, for example, just say, “Hi, I’m Lorne. My daughter is in sixth grade.” Keep our introduction in context with the setting. If there is no real context… Just say, “Hi, I’m Lorne.”
Unless we’re in a business setting, job title is irrelevant. Even if you or I are in fact the CEO, just say we work there. Be humble. Why does the other person need to know we’re this or that by job title?
Focus on the other person.
The other person is the only person that matters. Ask questions. Actually listen to the answers. The best connections never come from speaking; the best connections always come from listening. This goes back to a blog I posted last week and the “two ears, one mouth adage.”
- When you introduce yourself, embrace the moment and the setting and what it says about you right there, not in some other environment.
- Just be whoever you are. Authenticity, honesty and integrity are a bridge to trust and sought after traits. Those of us who have been around know darn well none of us is perfect. On the other hand, do NOT put yourself down either. Be confidant but not a braggart. Be humble but not apologetic.
- Be present with and focus on the other person. As the author notes above, the BEST connections come from listening. This is a vital element of the RESPECT value I emphasize in The Character Triangle. Ask a lot of sincere questions. Care about the answers you get.
- When you meet that person for the first time, do not underestimate the importance of a firm handshake, total eye contact and a big smile. (Other Non-Western cultures not withstanding). Send the message, “I’m really glad to meet you. I know I have much to learn about you.” Remember that people have a story. They are much deeper than their job title or other labels. Enjoy discovering who they are.
A real “hello” in The Triangle,