Tag Archives: shake hands

The Lost Arts – Introductions

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Shawn MacKenzie: This whole idea has me thinking – I wonder, aside from the generational or regional differences, if the modern cyber world in which we live doesn’t foster distance. We use e-monikers, avatars, and digital personae, which may or may not be based in truth. To actually meet someone face-to-face takes one into a whole new – very real – world. You can no longer hide behind aliases and cyberian anonymity.

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I remember…years and years ago…how, when people walked into the same room, or happened upon each other on a city street, or bumped into each other at the drug store, introductions ensued.

“Oh, hi, John. May I introduce my mother, Lois Sanderson? Mom, this is John Smith, my friend at school.” They shake hands. Chit chat a bit. Ask and answer a few questions.

Many times in the last few years, I’ve been the stranger in the room. I walk in. No introductions. Another person walks in, no introductions. A couple walks in, no introductions.

I have been in situations where I have to introduce myself. I’m not shy, so I say things like “Hi, I’m _________’s _______. Who are you?” Or “Hey, you must be ________, I’m ______.”

If you have an encounter (same room, city street, drug store) and you think, perhaps the person you are with and the person you ran into might not know each other, you should extend an introduction.

It’s not complicated. Though I do remember from Emily Post that you should “present” the older person first. Hence, I would present my mother to the younger pal o’ mine we ran into.

But even if you don’t follow Emily Post (and who does any more), you should at least say something that resembles an introduction.

A few comments about introductions, from friends…

Shawn MacKenzie: Hmmm. We are a curious species. I remember when I came to Vermont people greeted/introduced each other differently than in MN – always a handshake but often only first names. It would be sad if it’s another sign of declining civility.

Jessica Messinger: Perhaps making introductions is a lost art, or feels too formal for today’s society. I try to introduce people, but sometimes I forget names (even if I’ve known them since I was little!) and then it’s kind of awkward to make introductions,

Nancy Winden Gooch: Forgetting names is often my excuse. Embarrassing! I still think about those “rules” when I introduce people, although I don’t always get it right.

Esther Hastings Miller: This has bothered me, too. I remember practicing in grade school how to introduce people…older people first, women before men, etc. Maybe that’s overkill now, but I still appreciate being introduced when two people meet who know each other and I don’t know the third party. I usually try to do the same.

Ilil Arbel: It is one symptom of a strange decline in general manners, but I realize that perhaps that is how my parents felt as my generation grew up. Customs change. I don’t like the current manners, but I feel I must adjust.

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I don’t like adjusting to things that I feel are rude, or at least not very nice. You stand with a friend…another person walks up…how hard is it to say, “Hey, do you know so-n-so?” Not hard at all.

 

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Tips for personal customer service in a virtual world

What is good customer service?

Susannah Friis wrote: For me, it’s helpfulness, coupled with polite friendliness. If I crack a joke and the sales person laughs, they are my new best friend. (Find Susannah at Personally Speaking and follow her writing journey at The Writerly Way. Stop by, say g’day.)

Geoffrey VanDyck, VanDyck Computers, wrote: It starts with the customer. Without the customer, there is no business. If helping the customer is beyond the capability of the customer service agent, then it means directing the customer to someone with the authority to do something. (If you are in Minot, ND, look to Geoffrey for his awesome computer skills. Find Geoffrey on Facebook.)

Jessica Pettengill Messinger wrote: Customer service reps who sound like they’re smiling, who are friendly, and who do all they can to help get my appreciation. If they can’t help you, they should refer you up the chain of command. I talked with a customer service rep today, and she made a very stressful situation much better because she was pleasant. (Check out Jessica’s children’s book Stinky Feet via CreateSpace.)

Tonia Marie Houston wrote: A good customer service rep knows how to listen before asking the right questions. This takes empathy, experience, and respect. (See Tonia Marie blogging at Passionfind or at the group blog Hugs and Chocolate.)

Yesteryear

Years ago, I could walk into a local store and the cashier would call me by name and shake my hand. I’d ask for specials, find a few sales, and get a good deal. I would walk out of the store feeling valued, an important person.

Today

Much is lost via internet connections, emails, Facebook messages. You don’t get the same friendly face-to-face you used to.

“Shake hands” as soon as possible

When I get an email from a prospective client, I send a return email within 24 hours.

If I know I cannot respond to emails within a day (travel, family visiting, whatever), I consider putting an auto reply in my email with a brief explanation for my absence and my estimated return.

Sharing, not dumping

When I connect with a new person online, I check out their Facebook, Twitter, website, and blog.

When I respond, I interject something personal. Like, “I see you live in eastern Pennsylvania. My mom grew up in Lansford, PA.” Or, “I see you are a Yankees fan. I’m a die-hard Phillies Phan. Perhaps I will see you in the play-offs?”

Agreements and promises

Agreements, with or without a contract, are critical. Though I conduct most editing business with a contract, I often mentor and advise without a contract.

If I promise turn-around in three days, you get turn-around in three days.

Honesty and providing other resources

Recently, a prospective client came to me with a sword & sorcery novel. I told him his genre was not my strong suit. Even so, I gave a free sample of my editing prowess, noting problems, suggesting numerous changes and improvements. I also suggested a number of editors he could contact if he was not happy with my critique.

Obligations, sincere apologies, no excuses

Ever screw up? Yeah, me too. See my recent blog post, Obligations, sincere apologies, no excuses.

What personal touch do you miss with virtual customer service? How do you connect – personally – with new friends via the internet?

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Opening photo by Rhonda Harvey. Connect with Rhonda via Facebook or on her Rhonda Is Losing It blog.

Handshake photo by Charles Simpson Global via Photobucket.

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Karen S. Elliott was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, writer, and a fabulous grandmother to two wonderful little boys.

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