Making Introductions: The basics for introduction order

by EPI Staff on May 5, 2009

Q: Please tell me the proper way to introduce one to another. Is it Mrs. Important I want you to meet Mr. unimportant? That is woman to a man, older woman to another woman or man, older man to younger man?

A: There are several different components to a making a good introduction. Looking people in the eye, speaking clearly, and using forms of address that everyone is comfortable with will give you a base line that should get you through most situations.

Your question specifically addresses the order of the introduction. You have the basic concept correct in the example given (Mrs. Important, I would like you to meet Mr. Unimportant.) although the way you phrase it as a “rule” is inverted.  Traditionally, the person who is named first is being shown a degree of respect or deference based on seniority or prominence and is having the introduction made to them. In most circumstances, these four basic guidelines will see you through:

  1. A younger person is introduced to an older person. The older person’s name is stated first. (“Aunt Ruth, I want you to meet my roommate, Mimi Jackson. Mimi, this is my aunt, Mrs. Cox”)
  2. A person of high rank or special prominence is named first and receives the introduction. The lesser rank is introduced to them. (“Bishop Gordon, may I present my husband John?”)
  3. When introducing family members to others, the other person’s name is generally said first if the people being introduced are of roughly the same age and rank.
  4. Traditionally in social situations, men are introduced to women.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sydney Paget May 9, 2009 at 1:46 pm

My son and his girlfriend recently had a child. So far, there seems to be no sign that they’ll be getting married. I’m wondering how to introduce the couple to people. I could say “This is my son, my grandson, and my grandson’s mother” or “This is my son and his girlfriend and their child (my grandchild)” or some such thing. Somehow nothing sounds quite right. Even if I introduce them together this way, how would I introduce her as an individual when my son’s not present?

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Daniel Post Senning June 8, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I will start by saying that I am sorry I have not given you an answer sooner. Somehow I lost track of this question and it fell off my “to do” list.
It sounds like the situation that you describe comes up often enough that it would be a good idea to ask your son and his partner/girlfriend how they would like to be introduced by you. If they don’t have any idea you might suggest: girlfriend, partner, friend, significant other, or any other suggestion that you like. If they don’t have a preference you can ask to use the choice you prefer. If they would rather that you don’t address their relationship in your introductions or if you find it easier not to, you could simply introduce them by name. Although you are correct that it is nice to give some description or cue as to relationship with an introduction it is most important to make the introduction and communicate essential information. This should give you options when you are only with your granddaughter’s mother as well as with both her and your son.

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Granvette Matthews April 26, 2011 at 9:34 am

In an interview, before a panel of interviewers, when the interviewee enters the room, must the panel members stand? Does it depend on whether the interviewer is male or female? Older or younger? Lower or higher in rank? Thanks for any help you can provide.

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Country Girl April 26, 2011 at 11:39 am

Are we speaking of a job interview? If so, it is appropriate for the interviewee to greet each member of the panel with a firm handshake and introduction down the line. It is cordial for panel members to stand to greet the interviewee, but since the panel in this situation is of higher rank it is not expected. In most business/education situations etiquette shouldn’t be dictated by gender or age, but rather by rank.

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C June 13, 2011 at 7:56 am

‘Partner’ is easy and has the benefit of being literally correct (i.e. not a euphemism as are ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’)

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mendo August 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm

i would like to know how to welcom a employee e and how to greet

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Carry August 2, 2014 at 10:07 am

Why don’t just say “it’s my daughter” while introducing the girlfriend of your son
Then during conversation people will realize that she is not an actual blood daughter but she and them will always remember how nice you were to consider her as a part of your family.
Significant other is good too
And right may be ask them if they want you to mention their relationship to other people

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lisa August 28, 2014 at 12:18 am

Who should I introduce first—a youth minister or a businessman?

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Winifred Rosenburg August 28, 2014 at 11:54 am

It depends. Is this a business situation or a social situation? The specific circumstances can have an affect. Also age and gender could be factors.

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