The One Etiquette Rule My Grandmother Would Never Let Us Forget
Growing up, my grandmother was the queen of dropping little etiquette lessons here and there, until all of her grandchildren knew how to politely decline an invitation, the importance of hand-written thank you notes, and even the best way to avoid gossiping at the hair salon. Out of all of her lessons, one has stuck with me the most. From an early age, she taught me how to introduce myself.
Seems easy enough, right? Wrong. That's a fact I've realized more as I've grown older. She always told me that there was one way to tell if someone has good manners (in her opinion, of course): If you were to walk into a room of people at a party or dinner knowing no one but the hostess, especially if the majority of the group of people were familiar with each other already, look out for who introduces themselves to you. That would show you all you need to know, she would tell me.
Her number one etiquette rule is simple. It is not only polite, but also kind to introduce yourself to a stranger in any social situation, but particularly one in which you're aware that the stranger is alone and unfamiliar to those in attendance. Basically, just because you know everyone in the room doesn't give you an excuse to leave out and not heed etiquette to the one person who doesn't know anyone there. In fact, that is who deserves your attention the most.
There have been countless times where I've been that person, and I'm always surprised when many people would rather stay around those whom they know than introduce themselves to someone new, even if I was clearly the most unfamiliar in the situation. In those moments, I think of my grandmother. She'd be madder than a wet hen. Alternatively, I think of her when I see someone who is alone and might need to be brought into the conversation. I walk up, extend my hand, offer a smile, and do what she'd do. She passed down to me that there is no excuse to overlook the gesture of goodwill and etiquette. Ever.
For those who are now wondering how to introduce yourself properly, here's a quick refresher. Remember three things: eye contact, a smile, and your name. Always offer your name first, extend your hand for a handshake (barring any germ-related hesitation; a nod or elbow bump will do), and attempt to ask at least one question about the person during the conversation. It's a surefire way to make someone feel comfortable and welcome. It doesn't matter if you're the hostess or not. Just make the effort, and it'll always be appreciated. I'd bet Emily Post would agree.
My grandmother considered it the highest form of good manners to know how to introduce yourself and to do so frequently with intention and kindness. Let's make her proud.