Introducing a New Way of Introducing
It should be simple. “Sue this is Pete. Pete this is Sue”. But this introduction thing, it is not simple.
Faced with said Pete I don’t know if I’m supposed to shake hands, hug, shake hands and hug, shake, hug and back pat, air kiss once, air kiss twice, triple air kiss with actual facial contact or get real air. Or, if I should just offer my hand, nod and say in a low voice “Pleasure”. Okay I got the last one from ‘Downton Abbey’ so I know I shouldn’t do that one, but still you see my dilemma. When introduced to a stranger in the workplace I have no idea what to actually do. With my limbs. With my body. What trajectory should it be on? A lean in? And with just the upper body, right? A pelvis should always stay out of a first introduction. It’s like I become a marionette being controlled by a drunk puppeteer reenacting ‘Fight Club’, and somehow there is always proboscis damage and an awkward entanglement with a person I know nothing about but their name.
“Pete. Nice to meet you”. And now I hope I never have to see you again.
So, I’m calling for international standards for Introductions and Greetings. ISIG. Or #ISIG. You can make it trend on my behalf, all good. Or you can post my blog up everywhere. Also very, very good.
My International Standards for Introductions and Greetings will be like the International Safety Standards but I’d argue will be more important — after all dying of embarrassment during an introduction is always worse that actually dying because you have to see the people again and there are no after funeral snacks.
Of course I’ve looked into this standardizing thing in quite some depth. Actually I just found one website, iso.org. This is a body of people who standardize everything from levels of water purity so we don’t all die of bilharzia, to country abbreviations. Apparently everyone not using ‘.fr’ when referring to France is an equally huge issue. Merde! Everything that is standardized then gets a cool code, like ISO 9000 for example. Once my standards have been passed I’m hoping for ISO 1999, which is my favorite Prince song.
Let me back up a little. Or introduce my argument if you will.
Men have a greeting. The firm handshake. Every other time they meet they repeat this ritual. And as the friendship and camaraderie grows, or as bourbon flows, the handshake becomes a hug of sorts, eventually with loud patting on the back as if they are mutually burping one another in a sort of baby man action otherwise known as the “bro hug”.
Not the same for women. As young girls we aren’t taught to firmly shake hands when we meet someone. I was taught to say, “Nice to meet you”. Or to hug. And so when we step into boardrooms there is confusion because there are no rules. I’ve gotten a handshake out of men. But it never maintains, perhaps because there’s no roadmap to the “bro hug”. And I refuse to hug just because I’m a girl. And honestly, I meet a lot of people I would really rather not hug.
I’m not saying this is your fault good Sirs. I’m saying there are no standards. #IGIS/ISO 1999. Believe me, women being introduced to one another is an even greater disaster. We bungle handshakes and “Downtonesque” greetings. And then there’s always one effusive hugger with one less effusive one, stiff as a surfboard wondering when they will be released (me).
The very act of introducing people to put them at ease with one another is being overridden.
Add cultural affectations to all this. The European kissers, two if you’re Italian (I think) three if you’re Dutch (straight up time consuming and certain to create nose damage if both greeters are not well prepared), Middle Eastern wide air kissers, and then Japanese card exchangers. Can you imagine first day of work at the UN? “Oh sorry Angela Merkel, did we just kiss on the mouth? I was going for an air kiss, my bad.”
Let’s standardize friends! Pick something. I propose we begin with a handshake in boardrooms. Offer your hands. Teach your daughters. And teach your sons to shake their hands. Girls let’s embrace this. And let’s all get into one big hug when the International Standards for Introductions and Greetings or ISO 1999 is passed. Or #ISIG is trending at least. Yes? Pleasure. Mwah. Mwah.
Originally published at www.elephantinmyhead.com on January 8, 2016.