I just about remember starting at my first job, and going through the time-honored ordeal of being paraded around the office to meet the team.
Two introductions in particular stood out − and still do, after all these years. First, I met the team manager, Andrea. She got up as I came in, smiled, and offered me her hand. She made a quick reference to the college I'd been to, which showed that she remembered my interview, at least, and apologized for not having more time to chat, as she was on her way to a meeting.
A little later I met Chris. Chris leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head. He looked me up and down, raised an eyebrow, and said, “Well, I guess you turned up, at least.” Niceties concluded, he turned back to his screen.
Guess who I decided would be the one to trust and look up to? Right there and then.
First impressions matter. They aren’t the only things that count towards a good reputation in the workplace, but they can have a disproportionate impact. Get them right, and you’ll establish rapport much more easily with teammates, customers and suppliers. Get them wrong, and you’ll find yourself playing catch-up.
Try these top tips for greeting someone new at work.
1. Stand Up
When you're greeting new people, do so face-to-face. It’s just polite, and shows respect. It means that you consider them important enough to change your physical position for them. It also helps you to make eye contact.
2. Look ’Em in the Eye
Making eye contact indicates engagement and focus. It shows that you’re interested in the other person. Staring at your shoes, your watch, or your phone shows the opposite, and suggests disengagement. Use positive body language.
3. Smile (and the World Smiles With You)
Even if you’re carrying the woes of the world on your shoulders, try to look happy to see your new acquaintance. A grimace immediately puts the other person on the defensive, while a smile is welcoming and inclusive.
4. Take the Initiative With a Handshake
Approach the person you’re greeting and extend your hand. You’ll come across as confident and assertive, not aggressive. Don’t wait for the other person to take a lead.
Keep it simple: shake firmly, but avoid the "death grip." A "limp fish" leaves an equally poor impression. And keep your spare hand by your side: two-handed pumping and hands on shoulders are strictly for politicians.
5. Say Who You Are
Even better, say why you’re there and what you do. “Hi, I’m Paula” is a start. “Hi, I’m Paula. I’m an account manager with the Client Success team. How can I help?” is actually useful, and shows you’re making the effort.
6. Observe the Hierarchy
If you’re making the introductions, remember business etiquette. Introduce less senior people to more senior ones. Start with the name of the senior person, then introduce the junior person to them.
As you did when you introduced yourself, give some context. So, "Colette, may I introduce Phil? Phil is our new lead developer. Phil, Colette is our chief financial officer."
7. Get the Name Game Right
Make sure that you remember the name of anyone you’ve been introduced to, and use the name properly. It’s better to ask the person to repeat the name than to keep using an incorrect version.
Wait for permission before using someone’s first name. It’s respectful. Some people don’t like informality from the get-go, and it may be seen as culturally insensitive.
If you liked this blog and want to learn more about meeting and greeting, check out our other resources:
Content Editor/Writer Simon Bell knows how to explain things as simply as possible. He spent 20 years in educational publishing, before working on the popular “For Dummies” books. At Mind Tools, he’s particularly proud of the article he wrote on Porter’s Five Forces – one of our most popular resources. He also helps to produce the influential reports created by our in-house Impact and Insights team. Simon enjoys learning about history, and sharing new music with his sons. And his favorite advice is about balancing work and life. “Know when you’ve done enough at work – then go home!”
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"It leads to what the author calls “assertive play” – not brick-on-skull assertive, but self-confident engagement, where people know they have things to contribute, and stake their claim."- Jonathan Hancock