Erin Elise’s Emily Post Post: Introductions

It has been quite some time since I have updated my blog so I figured what better way to update it than by adding a new section?  This new section will be referred to as “Erin Elise’s Emily Post Post”.  It would be easy for me to sit here and say things like, “Kids these days just don’t have manners anymore!” But let’s be honest with ourselves, I think we all know plenty of adults who possess questionable manners as well.  So, since manners are not taught in schools, many adults don’t even know how to teach their kids proper manners, and I don’t expect you to read the 800 and some pages on etiquette from Emily Post, I have decided to share bits and pieces with you through my blog.  I hope that, over time, we will create a more pleasant world full of people who know how to open doors for strangers, reply to an R.S.V.P., and send out a thank-you card in an appropriate time frame. 

The topics in this section will likely follow my frustrations with the world.  So don’t be surprised if many of these posts are related to proper table manners.  I encourage you to comment on my blog with your personal experiences with the topic, your thoughts on if the proposed manner is still current or outdated, and your questions or suggestions for future topics. 

Today we are going to focus on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, introductions.  I am a huge fan of entertaining and I do my best to make sure that all of my guests feel acknowledged and welcomed;  which is why I find it so frustrating when I go to the gathering of another’s and I am not treated with the same regard.  If you are having guests in your home, know that you are mostly responsible for the introductions. 

Emily Post’s section on “Greetings and Introductions” is 20 pages long, which means there are a lot of formalities that would only be used today in the royal palace.  In fact, one whole page discusses how to introduce and address “the help”.  Since no one I know actually has “help”, we will just stick to the basics. 

Let me start by saying that, unless you severely botch an introduction, any introduction is better than no introduction at all.  Introducing someone lets them know that you value their presence and you want them to feel comfortable.  Nothing is worse than standing in a room full of strangers and having NO ONE acknowledge you.  Sure, we’re all grown adults and we can make the introductions on our own, but that can be incredibly uncomfortable and many of us are not that outgoing. 

When should you introduce someone?

Well, according to Post,

“Introductions are required on many, many occasions; and especially when two strangers meet in the company of a mutual friend.  It is inexcusably rude of the one who knows the other two to chat with one and leave the other – unacknowledged and left out – standing by as if they do not exist.” (Post, 1992)

This is the biggest mistake that I see take place in my age group.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have been at a party and I have walked up to two people talking and had that exact situation happen.  Or, they will go on to include me in the conversation and we will talk for the next twenty minutes, but then I will realize that I still have no clue who the other person is and then it just feels awkward to ask.  So, do the courteous thing, when someone new walks up, finish your thought and then promptly introduce them.  Gentlemen, trust me when I say that women will find this to be an attractive an endearing trait. 

While a hostess will generally introduce people when they come to a party, don’t expect her to introduce people that she doesn’t know.  If you have brought a guest with you to an event, it is your responsibility to introduce your guest.  Now, unless your guest is a prized pony, don’t parade them around the room for the sake of introducing them to everyone in attendance.  Do, however, make introductions whenever an introduction is possible.  Again, this is something that I see happen a lot in my age group.  If you are bringing your significant other to a social engagement, know that that person is likely already nervous about meeting all of your friends. Help ease their trepidation by making them feel like a welcomed part of the group. 

How do you introduce someone?

I would be okay if everyone went with the basic, “Erin Elise this is so-and-so, so-and-so this is Erin Elise.”  That would be a huge improvement on its own.  However, why not up the ante? 

Post provides us with three basic rules of introduction:

                1. A man is always introduced to a woman.

                2. A young person is always introduced to an older person.

                3. A less important person is always introduced to a more important person.

                  (Post, 1992)

So how is this done in practice?  Here are some examples:

“Erin Elise, I’d like you to meet Mr. Smith.”

Or, in the reverse:

“Mr. Smith, I’d like to introduce you to Erin Elise.”

You would either start with the woman’s name or start with the man’s name but introduce him to the woman.  In the case of a less important person being introduced to a more important person, this would mostly be done in a professional or official setting.  For example, I wouldn’t try to differentiate which friend in more important to me before I make the introduction. 

If possible, always try to include your relationship to the person whom you are introducing.  Including your relationship let’s both parties know how you know each other and it can aide in them carrying on a conversation with each other if you have to depart.  I like to take it a step further and try to provide information during the introduction that either party might find interesting.  If a friend of mine is a travel journalist and another friend just returned from a trip abroad, I might include that in the introduction.  For example,

“Dave, I’d like you to meet Kelly, she is a travel journalist for XYZ Magazine.  Kelly, Dave just got back from a month long trip backpacking across Europe.”

Again, I have set the scene for them to find something to talk about so that I may go on to greet other guests, fill the punch bowl, or sneak a drink of vodka from the freezer. 

These are some basic guidelines to get you started and to help you become a better host and guest.  As I mentioned above, please feel free to share your comments.  Particularly, I would like to hear about your best or worst introduction ever. 

May tomorrow find you to be a more well-mannered individual. 

 

 

 

Post, E. L. (1992). Emily Post’s Etiquette. New York: HarperCollins.

Oh the Things You Will Hear if You are Willing to Listen

Oh this day last year I was merrily on my way to my most beloved place in the world, Harrisville, MI.  My sister’s family and I had rented a cottage for the entire week on Lake Huron.  They drove up the night before but, due to my work schedule, I had to wait and drive up on Sunday, which was Father’s Day.  It was a four hour drive spent in the sunshine, with my windows down, and the music blaring.  I look forward to drives like this because it gives me a chance to really think about things, really explore my feelings, and ask myself questions that I avoid asking during the buzz and hum of every day life.  

Since it was Father’s Day, my mind and heart naturally drifted to thoughts of fathers.  I thought about, and gave thanks for, the many men in my life who have stood up to be a positive male role model to me, from teachers to family friends to uncles to my step father, and even my D.A.R.E. officer.  I have been blessed to know what a good man is and why I am deserving of the love of a good man.  However, all of the love that has been showered upon is still a close second to the love of my father whom I lost too soon. My father died when he was forty and I was only four which left an aching tenderness in my heart that has never fully healed.  

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As I drove on I went through the normal list of questions: would he be proud of me? would I be proud of him? would he think I’m funny and pretty and smart? would he believe in my dreams and my ability to achieve them?  what would he say to me today? I wiped away tears on and off for the next hour. As I was passing through a little lake shore town I saw a sign in front of an old church that advertised a used book sale.  

Two things you should know about me: 

1.  I will ALWAYS stop for a used book sale, always!

2.  I love happening upon a book that has an inscription in it written to some stranger whom I will never meet.  The trick though is that I can not look for inscriptions; the inscriptions have to find me when I pick up a book that interests me.  Then, if I find a book that I’m interested in AND there is an inscription in it, I HAVE to buy it.  

So, I pulled my car over, rolled down the windows for the lizard in my back seat, and walked in to begin my treasure hunt.  When I got inside I saw that it was a large empty room except for 5 long tables on either side completely filled with books.  The spines of the books were all facing the sealing so that you could not see the cover of any book except the one on the very end.  This isn’t my favorite way of searching for books, as I am heavily swayed by cover art, but I’ve grown accustomed to this type of search and the extra time that it calls for.  I walked directly to the first table, put my hands on the spines, and began my search.  I looked at the books where my left hand had landed and immediately drew my hand back.  I looked around the room as if to question the strangers to see if they saw what I was seeing.  Even if they had though, they would have no idea what it meant.  

The very first book beneath my hand was The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.  If my recollection serves me, I believe that a family friend brought this book over to our house shortly after our father had passed, though I can not recall who that friend may have been.  What I do recall is that this book was read to us in an attempt to explain what we were going through.  Freddie is a leaf on a tree who experiences the four seasons alongside his friend Daniel (which just so happens to be my father’s name).  As Spring turns to Summer and Summer turns to Fall, Daniel guides Freddie through the changes and explains that it is all a part of Life and our larger purpose.  In the Winter, Daniel releases his grip on the tree and falls gently to the ground, leaving Freddie alone.  Freddie is fearful for a period until he accepts that this is all a part of the process, and that he too must let go one day.  When his time comes, Freddie is able to view the entire tree for the first time and he understands in full what his purpose was.  

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I’ll be honest, as a child I don’t think the book had the impact on me that the adults had hoped for; metaphors we lost on me.  Regardless though, I thought the book was an odd find to come across on Father’s Day, in the middle of no where, after I had spent the entire drive thinking about my father.  I pulled the book from its resting place and opened the front cover.  Much to my delight, the front cover was inscribed.  Not only was the front cover inscribed though, it was dated 1986, the exact year that my father died.  

The inscription read as follows:

To Elaine – My friend,

This is one of my very favorite books – and I know it will become one of yours.  It is a gentle reminder to me – of the meaning and “beauty” of death – and a reminder also of our “Purpose” or “Reason for Being”.  Your parents had many “Reasons for Being”. Giving the world a daughter as beautiful as you are is only one “Purpose”. 

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I immediately put the book in my bag as I knew that it had been placed there just for me.  I rounded up a handful of other books, gave my donation, and got back on the road.  My eyes again filled with tears, but this time they were tears of understanding as the message had been received.  

When I got to my final destination, I walked into the lake (which is the one place that I have always felt his presence), looked towards the heavens and wished my father a happy Father’s Day and thanked him for his gift.