Ending Back-and-Forth Emails, Hugging When Meeting, and What to Do If You Forget Someone’s Name

By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor

Today we look at three different scenarios 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!

1.)   Have you ever met someone and you weren’t sure whether a hug or a handshake was more in order?  

2.).  Do you wonder whether you owe a response to an email that is summarizing what has been written about in other emails?

3.).  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: [email protected]

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 others are expecting 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 you’ve established a relationship, 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. 

Grace Note: The etiquette of greeting varies by nation and culture. The double-cheek kiss typical 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 keep in mind that you probably want to 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 bottom of my email 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 Should I Do If I Forget the Name of the Person I’m Introducing?

Q. Hello Maralee,

Thank you for writing your blog. I love it! I recently got a promotion, and I know a part of the reason was from using the leadership skills I learned from your blog. 

Here’s my question. What do you do when you go to introduce someone to someone else, and you forget the name of one of the people? 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: Thank you for your gracious and encouraging words about the help the blog has been to you. And congratulations on your promotion!  My love is teaching people the skills that help them become authentically them — at their best! That’s what manners and etiquette are 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 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, to distance yourself a little from the situation physically. Stepping back acts as a subtle signal for them to take over. Then add, “Please, introduce yourselves!”

As they’re introducing themselves, take one step forward, placing yourself back where you were in the “action.”

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! Plus, you’ve just had the opportunity to hear the name of the person that has temporarily slipped your memory. Win! Win!

What’s Next?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others you know who will appreciate the solid foundation that etiquette skills give for molding the ways others perceive, interact with, and respond to us and the product, service, or mission we represent.

Until next time, keep doing what you were put on earth to do, bless others by being you at your best!

Blessings galore,

Maralee McKee

About Maralee McKee

Maralee McKee is the founder of Manners Mentor. With her best-friend style, sense of humor, and knack for updating etiquette to meet our modern sensibilities, she has been referred to as "Sandra Bullock meets Emily Post!" Maralee shows you how to become the best version of yourself. No fluff. No pretense. Just you at your authentic best! The person you were always meant to be! To learn more about Maralee click on the "Meet Maralee" or "New? Start Here" links at the top of this page.

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