By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
Today we look at three different etiquette subjects that share a common thread: knowing how to handle the situations shows that you’ve got great manners and you care about not embarrassing others (or yourself).
They’re three emails sent to me by blog readers who encountered the situations and want to be prepared with the knowledge of what to do the next time they find themselves in similar situations. Like me, I bet you can relate to all three of these situations!
Have you ever met someone and you weren’t sure whether a hug or a handshake was more in order?
Do you wonder whether you owe a response to an email that is summarizing what has been written about in other emails?
As you’ve been getting ready to introduce two persons, have you ever forgotten the name of one or both people?
Read and enjoy, and if you have an etiquette question, send it my way anytime to: Maralee@MannersMentor.com.
I get A LOT of questions, so please understand that I don’t have enough hours in my day to answer each question personally, but I do use them in blog posts. Something that’s neat about etiquette is that if it applies to one of us, it usually applies to most of us. Your question will be helping lots of people navigate the sometimes choppy seas of modern interactions!
When Should I Shake Hands and When Is a Hug Appropriate?
Q. Dear Maralee,
Is it appropriate to hug, kiss on the cheek, or just shake hands when you meet someone for the first time?
Answer: A handshake is the expected greeting in the U.S. People like knowing what’s coming next in social or business encounters and what reply or action is expected of them.
When you’re expecting a handshake but get surprised by a kiss or hug, it’s off-putting for you. In the moment or so it takes you to decide how to respond (hug back or stand with arms down), you realize the hugger plays by his or her own rules.
We’re most drawn to others who act like we do, so for most people, offering a warm handshake is one of the best ways to ensure you are well-received from the start.
While you don’t want to hug the first time you meet someone, once a relationship is established, a hug is fine in social situations (not in traditional business settings) as long as the other person is OK with it. How do you know whether the other person is OK with it? You don’t. That’s why huggers (like me) are best to hold back on our natural tendencies and let the other person initiate the hug.
If you’re of the “do not hug me” variety, that’s OK, too. The most polite way to fend off the huggers in your life is to proactively extend your hand when you see the other person approaching. You can even say as you approach the person with your arm and hand extended for shaking, “Vicki, how nice to see you! Let me shake your hand!” It will stop all but the most determined huggers!
For more skills about this topic, check out How To Make a Great First Impression: The Five Step Formula.
FYI: The etiquette of greeting varies by nation and culture. The double-cheek kiss common in parts of Europe is making its way across the Atlantic and catching on here in large metropolitan areas. When in Rome — well you know! Just be the 10th person, not the first, on your block to put the practice in play.
How to Politely End Back-and-Forth Emails
Q: Hi, Maralee!
I receive lots of emails and hesitate to respond sometimes because it generates an ongoing back-and-forth type of correspondence that I think no one knows how to end. Sometimes I will write “No need to respond.” at the end of my email just to try and end the ‘thread.’ Any thoughts?
Answer: Your “No need to respond.” line is perfect! Keep using it!
I sometimes receive one-line, and even one-word, responses to emails. Often, they’re from people confirming my confirmation emails. In a way, it’s great to know for sure they’ve read my email and there’s nothing else I need to attend to. Like many, though, I sometimes feel the need to respond to their response.
One thing to know is that it’s considered good manners after three emails on the same subject to vary the form of communication. When in doubt, leave a quick voice mail message in which you confirm the details and the next steps (if any) to be taken.
You’re less likely to get a return call than a fourth email; so by calling, you’ve broken the thread, and, best of all, you’ve connected with them in a personal way!
What Do I Do If I Forget the Name of the Person I’m Introducing?
Q. Hello Maralee,
Thank you for writing your blog. It’s the only one I read. I love it. You’ve helped me feel more confident in social and business situations, which has been an answer to prayer. In fact, I recently got a promotion, and I know a part of the reason was from using the leadership skills I learned from your blog. I’ve spent hours reading all the posts!
Here’s my question. What do you do when you go to introduce someone to someone else and you forget one of their names? I forgot the name of a potential client the other day. I know her name, I just completely blanked out at the moment and ended up having to apologize. She seemed to understand, but since then, she also hasn’t returned my two phone calls. I’m hoping she’s just busy and that I haven’t hurt our business relationship.
Answer: You’re very kind! Thank you for your gracious and encouraging words about the help the blog has been to you. It’s my hope and prayer that people will flock here to make life easier on themselves by trading self-consciousness for self-confidence by knowing the gold standard for how to handle situations. We all have a best version of ourselves inside, eager to shine through. My love is teaching people the skills that help them become authentically them — at their best! That’s what manners and etiquette are really all about!
Now, concerning your question, oh my goodness, I’ve been caught in this same situation! It’s embarrassing, isn’t it! Not to fear, here’s how to handle it the next time it happens.
Your best response is simply to set up the introduction and then allow the two people being introduced to complete it for you.
Try this: smile and say, “Have the two of you met?” As you say it, take one step back and add, “Please, introduce yourselves!”
It works every time! They’ll never guess you’ve had a memory lapse!
The best part is that you’ve facilitated the introduction without making anyone feel forgotten!
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Until next time, keep doing what you were put on earth to do, bless others by being you…at your best!
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