How Do You Introduce A Friend?

Years ago, a family new to our area came to an enrichment program my kids and I were attending. Someone said, “Oh you’ve got to meet Beth, she dragged roadkill to the back of her yard so her kids could observe the process of decomposition.”

I knew immediately that Beth and her kids were our kind of strange. Every member of her family is clever in charmingly different ways and they quickly became integral to our lives. I don’t need to introduce her with that roadkill story because I have so many other Beth stories by now.

I don’t know about you, but I’m uncomfortable with the usual what-this-person-does-for-a-living introduction. Your friend may be amazing at her job, but she’s more than that. I’d rather introduce people by what they mean to me.  “I’d like you to meet Margaret, who is truly the most unique person I know,” or “This is Leslie, who has helped me out of more more scrapes than you can imagine,” or “I’d like you to meet Mark, an amazingly open-hearted man who also tends to make scatological jokes.”

Or introduce them by something they do that brings them joy. “I’d like you to meet David, who is a reading buddy with kids in an inner city school,” or “This is Amy, who has challenged herself to write an acrostic poem every single day,” or “This is Cynthia, who has such attuned vision in nature that she can see what most people never notice.”

Or, as in the case of Beth, to introduce someone with a story.

I suspect most of us feel awkward in a group of strangers at a party, reception, or stalled elevator. Oftentimes a conversation starts more naturally by simply sharing an observation (“I hope elevator cables only snap in the movies,” might not be the right one. Which means I’d probably say it…)

Or asking a more essential question that might lead to real connection. Maybe, “What’s capturing your attention lately?” or “What do you like to do that you don’t have to do?” (Yeah, lame. I told you I’m awkward.)

And whatever we do, by really listening to the answers.

I ran across this wonderful poem by a fellow Ohioan, Susan Glassmeyer. She says it all, perfectly.

INTRODUCTIONS

Let’s not say our names
or what we do for a living.
If we are married
and how many times.
Single, gay, or vegan.

Let’s not mention
how far we got in school.
Who we know,
what we’re good at
or no good at, at all.

Let’s not hint at
how much money we have
or how little.
Where we go to church
or that we don’t.
What our Sun Sign is
our Enneagram number
our personality type according to Jung
or whether we’ve ever been
Rolfed, arrested, psychoanalyzed,
or artificially suntanned.

Let’s refrain, too, from stating any ills.
What meds we’re on
including probiotics.
How many surgeries we’ve survived
or our children’s children’s problems.
And, please—
let’s not mention
who we voted for
in the last election.

Let’s do this instead:
Let’s start by telling
just one small thing
that costs us nothing
but our attention.

Something simple
that nourishes
the soul of our bones.
How it was this morning
stooping to pet the sleeping dog’s muzzle
before going off to work.

Or
yesterday,
walking in the woods
spotting that fungus on the stump
of a maple
so astonishingly orange
it glowed like a lamp.

Or just now,
the sound
of your
own breath
rising
or sinking
at the end
of this
sentence.

— Susan Glassmeyer

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7 thoughts on “How Do You Introduce A Friend?

  1. I don’t do introductions. I’m not sure if it’s because I was raised in an introverted household where I almost never interacted with people in a formal way outside of family, but there’s something about meeting new people where my brain simply short circuits after “Hi!” Sometimes I forget to even say my own name let alone introduce a companion. I recall once I had a friend over, as a poor college student still living at home, and failed to make introductions with my parents. Later my parents scolded me and berated me for being so rude “We taught you better than that!” I was dumbfounded as they truly had taught me nothing in my whole life about adult social behaviors, not directly or in demonstration, and my friend thought absolutely nothing of not being introduced. I couldn’t understand what they were talking about or why they were making such a big deal. A decade later I’m still baffled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand the brain short circuit. I had one of those moments at a coffee shop when I ran into a woman I’d known for years through a local organization. Maybe because I was seeing her out of the usual context, but I couldn’t remember her name or even how I knew her. My brain was so caught up trying to figure this out that I could barely remember to crank out a smile. I’m not sure if I managed to say a single word.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great advice. I don’t usually introduce people with anything more than their name, but that’s probably because of the usual context of the introductions. I’ll be thinking further about what you wrote here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my favourite tricks is to say “This is xxx, you guys have so much in common, I know you’ll get on like a house on fire”. Especially enjoyable when you know there’s nothing in common at all, but they’re going to have to do some serious exploratory conversing to find that out! And if asked at a social function “what do you do?” I tend to refuse the question (not wanting to be defined by my earning capacity) by saying “too much of what I don’t enjoy and not enough of what I do”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Laura,
    When my wife and I met on a ‘Speed-Dating’ night, the first thing I said was, “No questions about our job, family or any other boring stereo-typical catergory”. She asked me about places that I have lived… and it was love at first flight!

    Liked by 1 person

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