We’ve all been in a situation where we feel uncomfortable.
You arrive at a gathering at a new location and, looking around, you don’t see a single familiar face.
Age does not seem to discriminate against the desire to fit in. Young or old, we all want to belong. We can be completely comfortable with one person, but if person is going to be busy with all her other guests, we are not going to to be comfortable with her friends until we find a common ground with them.
I guess that’s why introductions are one of the most powerful tools for building–and displaying–confidence.
I remember the day my aunt taught me how to introduce my friends to her. She was a teenager sunbathing in my yard when I ran by her with my friends like she wasn’t even there. She called me back and taught me the proper way to do an introduction.
- “Auntie, this is my friend, so and so”
- “so and so, this is my auntie….”
As much as I appreciated learning this important social skill, it scared me to death! My aunt was obviously insulted by the way I had treated her and I didn’t know what to do with the strong emotion. I felt like a total fool. From that moment in my early childhood until well into my adult years, I would panic whenever I had to make an introduction. A situation would arise where I was the one who knew two parties and the feeling of foolishness would instantly overwhelm me and (of course!) the names would escape me, making it that much more awkward.
I was set free of that stressful feeling the day I was doing haircuts for a family with eleven kids. I was so impressed with the way this amazing mother would bring one child at a time to me and not only tell me the child’s name and tell the child mine, but also stand there with us telling me all about this child as if he or she were her only one, while the other ten played quietly in the other room. After hearing about each child’s gifts, interests and abilities I felt included in her family and I fell in love with them all.
That one experience challenged me in many ways. It made me want to explore the possibility that perhaps the secret to discipling sibling rivalry is to make each child feel as important as she made her kids feel. And it helped me let go of my old fears of feeling foolish giving introductions. Since then I have tried to embraced the challenge of not only sharing my friends’ names, but I also now try to tell something about each person that the other might be interested in. Although I haven’t mastered it yet, I do feel my aunt would be proud to know I now enjoy the powerful moments of helping friends feel acknowledged, included and important in unfamiliar places where they might have otherwise felt uncomfortable and awkward. That’s the power of an introduction and everyone of us has that power should we decide to be confident enough to use it.