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Faux Pas (Oops moments)


Many times when we are introduced to people for the first time there is a moment of nervousness or awkwardness and we make a common faux pas of pointing out some unique characteristics of the person we are meeting, instead of saying, ""it is great to meet you."

Here are some of the common things I have experienced or witnessed.

Pointing out someone’s “unique” name.

Anyone with a non-biblical name has probably ran into this type of introduction multiple times. Let me also point out that biblical names are Hebrew and Arabic names, yet so many hear a Hebrew or Arabic name and have much hesitation.

I have a name that is Arabic/Swahili in origin and I grew up in Davenport, Iowa, so let’s just start there…

Me: Hi, my name is Akilah Easter

Them: Like tequila?

Me: No, like AH-KEY-LA

Them: I was trying to make a joke

Me: I know

Remember, that when someone makes the initial faux pas of mocking your name, you are not responsible to make them feel comfortable. Etiquette is not about feeling uncomfortable, but to have a polite way of correcting an uncomfortable situation.

When pointing out that someone’s name is unique can sometimes shows one’s limited exposure to various cultures. It says, I haven’t heard this name, so it must be weird. When I explain to others the meaning of my name and that it is actually a very common name they seem to feel the need to apologize. Avoid the embarrassment and pause before you say the first thing that comes to your brain.

Pointing out that someone is tall

One of the most common introduction faux pas that I hear is pointing out that someone is tall. All the women in my family are tall and I even have a male cousin who is over 7 feet tall…so I have heard this a lot when others come around my family.

Imagine when this person became the tallest kid in their class, probably like 3rd grade, and then add all the years that this person has heard people reminding them that they are tall. It is obvious that the person is tall and they are very aware of this, don’t remind them. Start the conversation off with something more interesting.

Another thing… how do you respond to someone saying, “you are tall!”.

Pointing out a scar or any type of deformity

Some people have prominent scars. Some scars can have a traumatic story behind them and when we point this out, it reminds them of that time. Let that person choose when to share their story. Do not point it out, it may be an insecurity that the person obviously cannot hide and you confirm to that person that people only see the scar before they see the person. If you get to know that person, I am sure that the history of that scar will be revealed.

Remember that any joke that comes to your mind is a statement that that person has already heard on multiple occasions, make your introduction and original one. Avoid those oops moments.

Your next introduction is your next first impression, don’t leave an annoying imprint.

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