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JessHartley
09-10-2009, 03:00 AM
Welcome to One Geek to Another, an ongoing advice guide to the ethics and etiquette of the geek life. I'm your hostess, Jess Hartley, and I'll be bringing you One Geek each week.

Sometimes, the column will be me talking about whatever etiquette and ethics topic strikes my fancy or seems particularly appropriate at the time. Other times, I'll field questions from readers, offering my best suggestions on how to deal with questions about geek social interaction, professional situations or relationship challenges. (So, please send in (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/sendmessage.php?do=mailmember&u=9844) your questions or comments, and they may make it into next week's article!)

All in all, however, each weekly guide will be a little snippet of "how to make your geek life better" from One Geek to Another...

Today's topic is introductions. I recently returned from GenCon, my fears were confirmed - introductions are becoming a lost art form. While the losing the restrictions and formalized taboos about members of one sex, race or social strata talking to another is a good thing, I'm afraid the art of making an introduction is all-too-quickly following in its path to obscurity. And that, my geeklings, is a bad thing.

Ideally, when a new person enters a conversational setting, or if there is a social setting where not everyone knows each other (such as a gaming group, party or even just a clump of folks gathered in the hall at a convention), someone who knows most or all of those involved will step forward and introduce each party to the rest. Whether it's a simple "Hey everyone, this is Joe, he's my brother/boss/neighbor. Joe, this is everyone" or a more detailed step by step introduction to each person in the group, introductions are an important and positive part of the social process.

Far too often, what happens instead is that a newcomer enters a conversational group (or two social circles meet in some fashion) and no introductions are made.
The individuals in each group who do know each other converse, and those who don't know each other stand awkwardly wondering if they should wander off and leave the others to their conversation. Sometimes it's possible to jump into a conversation mid-stream without an introduction, but it can be an uncomfortable situation, rife with the possibility for faux pas. And, unfortunately, it doesn't allow everyone in the conversation to make the most of the interaction, whether their goal is making new friends or social/professional networking.

At its heart, an introduction is a simple matter. It can be as casual as an announcement of identity or as in depth as a personal or professional reference, but it consists, at least, of one member of an existing group (even if the "group" only consists of two people) acknowledging the presence of a newcomer to the rest. And that's a good thing for everyone involved.

To the newcomer, an introduction not only provides their name to the rest of those gathered, opening the opportunity for conversation and ongoing interactions, but it also acknowledges their social right to be a part of the existing group. They've been welcomed in, and don't have to worry if their presence is welcome or not. Especially when entering new social circles (such as arriving at a party or event held by a a new social group, or entering a conversation with established friends or authority figures) this can be incredibly reassuring.

To the original members of the conversation, being introduced to a new person offers not only the opportunity to learn basic information about them, but also reiterates their place in the social structure. Their presence as a part of the group is reaffirmed, and they've been acknowledged as someone who matters enough to have newcomers brought to them.

And, for the person making the introduction, not only have they performed a social service for the group and individuals involved, they've gained a little social status themselves, as the person "in the know". Connecting one friend or peer to another is not only a way to strengthen the groups' social interconnectivity (or to merge two or more cliques into a more cohesive whole) but it also says something about the person doing the connection - they're a social maven, a person who "knows people" and (if the introduction is done well) a clever and charming conversation starter.

Introductions are, in short, a win-win situation for everyone involved. They reduce the chances of social faux pas, strengthen the social structure and offer a plethora of opportunities for conversation and networking opportunities. While the art of the introduction may be fading, it's not dead yet, and with a little effort it can be revived.


Have questions about how to handle a geeky situation? Need advice on social etiquette relating to games, movies, fan groups, conventions or other geek-ful settings? Send us an email (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/sendmessage.php?do=mailmember&u=9844) and your question may get answered in one of our future "One Geek to Another" columns!

For more information about your One Geek to Another hostess, check out Jess' website at: www.JessHartley.com (http://www.jesshartley.com)

cigamnogard
09-10-2009, 06:29 PM
Maybe it's because I live in the gap this is not an issue. We still know how to introduce ourselves - here in good ole Saskatchewan.

outrider
09-10-2009, 07:18 PM
I would have to agree with Jess's thing on introductions. I always introduce someone to the group or I introduce myself. I have walked into too many situations like the ones shes' described.

Its not that hard to introduce someone to a group.

Grimwell
09-11-2009, 12:02 AM
Introductions are definitely a lost art. I do a lot of travel and meet a lot of folks, and I've been left on the fringe of a conversation even by well meaning friends; who don't know how to do a round of introductions. In a fast moving environment where people are coming and going at a rapid clip (such as a convention) it might feel like a hassle to introduce people, but it's always worth the effort.

It's not a geeks only issue either, by any stretch.

(Welcome to the site Jess!)

JessHartley
09-11-2009, 12:34 AM
Introductions are definitely a lost art. I do a lot of travel and meet a lot of folks, and I've been left on the fringe of a conversation even by well meaning friends; who don't know how to do a round of introductions. In a fast moving environment where people are coming and going at a rapid clip (such as a convention) it might feel like a hassle to introduce people, but it's always worth the effort.

It's not a geeks only issue either, by any stretch.

(Welcome to the site Jess!)

Thanks! Great folks here!

I agree - totally not a geek only issue, but most of life really isn't divided into geek and not-geek issues, although being a geek may mean the environment or the particular flavor of an issue is a bit different than for a non-geek. :) That doesn't mean they aren't issues that geeks can use advice on!

I'm always accepting questions for the 'every other' episode of One Geek that is a Question and Answer session, so if you have any geek-specific issues you'd like advice on, feel free to drop me a note at OneGeek@jesshartley.com and they may very well be the feature of a future article!

~jess

Marley117
09-11-2009, 09:27 AM
I think my only problem with introductions is the name part. I am so terrible at names, it isn't even funny. Take for instance, last month we had my great grandmother's birthday party. Everyone in the family (on her side) was there, and I had my girlfriend there because they knew each other and my great grandmother liked her a lot. So I go to introduce her to the family members....and blank.

What are there names?

Yeeeaaaa.....I can't remember my family member's names. Granted I have a huge family and only see them twice a year but still! Lol...it was bad. Solution, name tally on my arm in sharpee lol.

Welcome to the site! I look forward to all of your advice!

JessHartley
09-11-2009, 09:44 AM
I think my only problem with introductions is the name part. I am so terrible at names, it isn't even funny. Take for instance, last month we had my great grandmother's birthday party. Everyone in the family (on her side) was there, and I had my girlfriend there because they knew each other and my great grandmother liked her a lot. So I go to introduce her to the family members....and blank.

What are there names?

Yeeeaaaa.....I can't remember my family member's names. Granted I have a huge family and only see them twice a year but still! Lol...it was bad. Solution, name tally on my arm in sharpee lol.

Welcome to the site! I look forward to all of your advice!

Thanks for the welcome!

There's two possible options with this situation that you might consider. The first (if you can remember people's relationship to you, but not their names) is to introduce them by relationship -

"Lisa, this is my great aunt, my grandmother's sister..."
"Auntie, this is Lisa, my girlfriend."

The second is to admit your name-issue to your girl and ask for her aid. This works well for us.

My husband works in a high level position for the county here, and meets many people in the course of his day. They remember him (in part because he's 6'7" tall, and in part because he's the one who ultimately controls whether their technology needs are met or not) but he often has a hard time remembering who they are.

We've established a pattern that if he doesn't step up immediately with an introduction after exchanging the "Hi, how are you's" (or if he says "This is my wife, Jess..." but doesn't follow up with the other half of the introduction), I smile, extend my hand and say "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name." They, of course, offer it, and now not only do I know the name, but he does as well, and no insult has been given on any quarter.

Recently at a gaming convention, we had a reverse situation (someone I should have recognized but wasn't able to put a name with) and he stepped in and did the same thing for me! It was wonderful!

Normally, I suggest a very straightforward approach - I don't know how many times at GenCon this year I had to say "I'm sorry, I know I should know you but I can't bring your name to mind. Please forgive me." Usually, if this is handled with humor and aplomb, it's not taken as an insult. But with relatives - perhaps a little team work is in order. :)

~jess

Marley117
09-11-2009, 09:52 AM
Yes ma'am. That is actually a good idea. Of course, I didn't think about that fact until I got in there and realized it, and by that time it was too late. I just had to suffer through trying to listen in on conversations and catch names. She is also very shy, so I am not sure she would jump all over that, but she probably would. I'd do it for her, so it would work out well.

That is an awesome idea. I thought about the relationship thing too, but most of the family there was my dad's cousins, daughters, best friends, etc etc etc. It gets so jumbled I just took my dad's word that we are all related. I am pretty sure almost everyone there is my second or third cousin. The only close family was my grandmother and great grandmother. Oh and my cousins, but I knew those names :P

I should make an effort to remember names better. I am a terrible family member ;) Thank you again! I wished I could have gone to Gen-con this year. I almost had enough money. Next year I am definatly going.

-Marley

Grimwell
09-11-2009, 02:05 PM
I often suffer from the same problem too Marley. I meet so many people in the course of a year through my job that I have no hope for remembering them all. I have a thing for remembering faces, but not names.

Jess's advice about admitting it and moving on is rock solid. If you own up to not remembering, in a polite way, people will help you out.

Most of the time I am lucky and can just say something like "Hi there! We met last year at X, but I'm embarrassed and have to admit that I don't remember your name." and people will share a laugh and fill in the blank. The fact that I can tell them where I met them, and often snippets of their conversations with me lets them know that I do remember them and they were memorable; and gives them the power to be gracious and bail me out on names.

Just validating that a person was memorable, even if you can't remember their name, buys that grace with most folks.

All bets are off with family though :D

Magesteff
09-24-2009, 05:48 AM
I'm very bad at remembering names to people I have only met once or twice. I generally solve the issue by saying "Hi, I'm sorry but I am bad a remembering people's names. I'm Steffeny" Hopefully they take the hint and will respond with their name - and hopefully I will remember it for a change!

tesral
10-16-2009, 12:06 PM
I'm very bad at remembering names to people I have only met once or twice. I generally solve the issue by saying "Hi, I'm sorry but I am bad a remembering people's names. I'm Steffeny" Hopefully they take the hint and will respond with their name - and hopefully I will remember it for a change!

Ayup, I'm up front with that. I'm bad at names. It seems a common problem in the geek community.

rabkala
05-24-2010, 09:43 PM
No need for introductions. I hump leg! Show dominance, they learn respect and your name! :p