Introductions can be awkward. It seems that people often don’t know how to do them anymore, or they’re afraid to mess them up so they don’t even start. There’s always a moment where people stare at each other briefly in embarrassment, no one bold enough to take charge of the situation. This doesn’t just happen in social settings or at middle school dances. I see it happen at meetings and in professional situations all the time, creating a vacuum that sucks the air out of the room. What a pity.

The solution is actually simple: don’t wait to be introduced. Take the onus off everyone else and simply introduce yourself. When you walk into a situation with “unknowns,” just extend your hand and say, “Hi. I’m Tammy Davis.” Do it immediately; don’t stand off to the side and size up the situation first, or the inertia will hold you there. This simple action dispels everyone’s awkwardness, and introducing yourself spurs others to do the same. Voila! No need to wrestle with the protocol of deciding who should introduce whom. Even if you think you’ve met the person before, do it anyway. You can even add, “Hi! I’m Tammy Davis. I think we may have already met.” Now the person, who probably vaguely recognizes you too, can stop trying to recall your name from the recesses of his memory. Better yet, now he’ll tell you his name so you can do the same.

Most people agree that a first impression isn’t soon forgotten. Make sure people remember you as the person who started the conversation, not the person who was afraid to join it.

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