Use of Names in Introductions

How to Introduce Married Women from The Stage?

How should I introduce members of the book committee (I am the chair) to the full club membership at a meeting? Some of the committee members use Mrs. (their husband’s full name), others Mrs. (their full name), and others avoid the issue by using just their (First and last name).

What should I do? Use of Names in Introductions
————————— Mrs. Michael Dillon … aka … Jane Dillon

Dear Mrs. Dillon,
I recently spoke at meeting of the Centennial Club in Nashville, Tennessee, and noted a master of ceremonies at a luncheon using a formula that worked. She clearly thought of it as a formal social situation and wanted to include the Mrs. (Husband’s Name) form … but wanted to include their given name too since they were all on a first-name basis. What she did was to give the woman’s married name followed by her given name.

While it may seem a bit elaborate, it enabled the speaker to be both formal and casual at the same time:

—–—–Mrs. Michael Dillon …. Jane
—–—–Mrs. Thomas Franklin … Cindy
—–—–Mrs. Robert Elizer … Harriet
—–—–Mrs. Richard Montgomery … Francis

— Robert Hickey Use of Names in Introductions


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

Do I Introduce a Doctor as Dr. (Name) at a Party?

At an event where everyone is on a first name basis, does one introduce a doctor with the honorific Dr.? Or should I introduce his just with his first name … no Dr.
————-– Amy K. in Montreal Use of Names in Introductions

Dear Amy K.:
In a truly social introduction don’t introduce a doctor as Dr. (Name).

—–RE: First name basis. Normally only children are introduced with first-names-only. For adults give first and last names in an introduction — so both parties get complete information — then let them switch to first-name-only.
So saying something like one of the following in a social situation seems good to me …

—–#1) Michael Updike I would like to introduce Kevin Cox. Michael is a radiologist here in Montreal. Kevin is my neighbor and teaches Canadian history at McGill.

—–—–– This gets them started using first names.   Or consider this option:

—–#2)  Michael Updike I would like to introduce to you Kevin Cox. Dr. Updike is a radiologist here in Montreal. Dr. Cox is my neighbor and teaches Canadian history at McGill.

—–—–– This gives them a cue that you are not expecting them to be on a first name basis and gets them started with the more formal terms.

— Robert Hickey

Use of Names in Introductions

Can I Introduce Myself as Mrs. (Last Name)?

—–I think there is a rule that one never gives oneself an honorific? So by that rule I would never introduce myself as Mrs. James Barkley or Mrs. Karen Barkley or Mrs. Barkley. But recently Carol, the daughter of a friend, addressed me as Karen, and I didn’t like it. If I can’t say “I am Mrs. Barkley” how can I control what others call me?
—–—–—–—–— Karen Barkley, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Dear Mrs. Barkley:
Yes … formally you wouldn’t give yourself an honorific. So don’t put Mrs. in front of your name on stationery.

But there are circumstances where you will want to determine what another person calls you … and it’s absolutely O.K. to simply say “Carol, I’d prefer you call me Mrs. Barkley.”

Sometimes we don’t like to have to defend our turf, but you are exercising same option if someone calls you Mrs. Barkley and you say “Please call me Karen.”

My name is Robert, and I always introduce myself as Robert, but every once in a while some one will say “it’s nice to meet you Bob” … and just say “it’s Robert” .. and it’s done. It’s my name and I am entitled to determine what I am called.

I can think of other times when It’s O.K. to introduce identify yourself with an honorific. Doctors do in their office, at the hospital, and on their answering machine to clarify who they are to patients. Or perhaps in your home to a contractor or service provider and you want to maintain formality … and distance … in the situation. In each case you aren’t so much giving yourself an honorific as you are giving them your correct name for the situation or relationship.

— Robert Hickey Use of Names in Introductions

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Introduce Myself as an Officer?

I’m currently a USMC Second Lieutenant. I work at a telephone help desk and constantly am talking to new people on the phone. I identify myself as “Lieutenant Felton” when necessary. {My Email signature block says Second Lieutenant, USMC.}

But while on th phone I have been mistaken as a 1stLt and in the Navy Lieutenant. Is it proper for me to simply call myself Lieutenant (Name), or should I identify myself as Second Lieutenant (Name)?
—————————– Tony Felton

Dear 2ndLt Felton, Use of Names in Introductions
 I don’t think there is only one possible answer here.

——#2) If your organization wants you to provide your name at the beginning of your call …. I suspect they want “Good morning, Second Lieutenant Anthony Felton, United States Marine Corps speaking. How can I help you?.   It’s a mouthful, but it’s informative and lets the caller know exactly to whom they are speaking.

——#1) If your organization just wants you to answer with “Help Desk” you will encounter people who just want to have a name to use in conversation. If you think they want your name to use right then, give them the conversational form of your name: Lieutenant Felton.   There is a rule – one does not give oneself an honorific – you just give your name.  But in this case it makes sense for you to give them your rank.  Providing Lieutenant  lets everyone know you are uniformed personnel. If someone mistakenly thinks you are one of those other higher ranks – just correct them.

——#2) Anytime people anyone ask “To whom am I speaking” – a rather formal request …..  give them the official form of your name: Second Lieutenant Anthony Felton, United States Marine Corps. 

— Robert Hickey

Use of Names in Introductions

How to Introduce Four People at a Time?

Our private school has applied for a grant and have invited four individuals from a foundation to visit the school. The individuals include: the President, the Vice President, and 2 other members. They will be touring our school and will be introduced to key school persons along the way. What I want to know is how these individuals should be introduced especially since there are four of them.
———————-– Lynn M.

Dear Lynn M.:
They should be introduced in precedence order – with the highest person’s name. Since they haven’t given you titles for #3 and #4, we will assume they of equal precedence.  Here is how it  said first if you want to actually use names. With four it would be ….

—-Here is the formula:
——–President of Foundation
—-—-Vice President
—-—-Foundation Person A
—-—-Foundation Person B
—-—-—-may I present (School Person), chairman of the department of XXXX.

—-Directed to the School Person: 
—-These are our guests from the XXX Foundation.

—-Which would sound like:
—-—-Mr. Smith, Ms. James, Mr. Wilson, Ms. Thomas, may I present Dr. Anderson, chairman of the Department of History.

—-To Dr. Anderson:
—-—-Our guests are from the Evergreen Foundation. Mr. Smith is the President of the Foundation and is interested in seeing our facilities.

—-This provides an opportunity for Dr. Anderson to speak with Mr. Smith and the delegation.

—-With large groups some times names are left out if there are too many OR if you don’t think there will actually be any conversation. Such as:
——–To the delegation from the Foundation:
—-—-—-This is our football team coached by Tim Clark

——–To the football team and Tim Clark:
—-—-—-Our guests are from the Evergreen Foundation.

You allow for a general acknowledgment from both sides to the other … and then you move on.

— Robert Hickey   Use of Names in Introductions


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Introduce Your Father, The Duke?

Presumably, a Duke’s title is not usually (or ever) the family surname. For the sake of illustration, let’s say there is a British Duke of Highhampton, with the first name of Peter and family surname Cameron. His third son, who works as a minor government official in the Bahamas, introduces him to an American friend who also lives in the Bahamas (and who does not know the family’s history) at a casual lunch. In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say “This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton.”

What would he say instead? Would a member of the British aristocracy ever simply say “This is my father, Peter Cameron”?   If so, presumably the friend would call the father “Mr. Cameron” during the subsequent conversation, intending to show generational respect. However, would a duke find this an offensive come-down from his real title?) Or would it be most plausible that the son would at least say, This is my father, Peter Cameron, Duke of Highhampton, even when the introduction is in a relaxed setting?
— Florence Brook Use of Names in Introductions

Dear Ms. Brook: Use of Names in Introductions
I love this question because superficially it is about addressing nobility, but it really about making introductions. For formal situations the forms of address are fixed by protocol. Casual situations may call for casual forms of address … which are the realm of etiquette. Etiquette allows for the individual to interpret what he or she believes is right for the situation.

Here’s what I think:   Use of Names in Introductions

——–#1) The job of the introducer is to provide the names for the people being introduced to use when each responds to the introduction. The son will be in the best position to know what his father will like to be called by his son’s friends and what his friends will like to be called by his father. It is the son’s function as the introducer is to establish the right common ground.

——–#2) Acknowledging the other person’s status … whether a student, military officer, your supervisor, or both father and the holder of a noble title …. is a essential to establishing good communication.

Perhaps the best plan is for the son to brief everyone in advance of what he will do and what he thinks each should call the other, so everyone can enjoy the start of a new friendship. Protocol officers typically brief their bosses on what the “call by” names are for people they are about to meet. It’s really easy … and makes things go smoothly.

——–RE: In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say “This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton.”

Secrets that explode during the event are really planning problems! The purpose of protocol is to establish a stress-free environment so the planned work of the event or meeting can be accomplished.
———————–— Robert Hickey Use of Names in Introductions

Dear Mr. Hickey,   Use of Names in Introductions
Thank you for your insight. It’s very kind of you to respond, and charming to me for different reasons, not the least of which is the comment about a secret that explodes. I was once the inadvertent subject at such a moment, and embarrassed a speaker in front of a big roomful of his peers and bosses due to the klutzy job he did introducing me (no loss of face for me, a whole lot of loss of face for him). I don’t believe any of his staff ever had the slightest inkling that they should have been abashed for not briefing him properly. They all just stood around and tsk-tsked him for his faux pas.

I once met an earl at a friend’s house in Oregon. We were hanging around on a summer day in shorts and were introduced by first name only (i.e., not a protocol-officer moment). My friend is rabidly egalitarian, yet even she was quite ready to whisper in my ear that he was an earl. I therefore guess it is unrealistic to think a member of the British aristocracy would ever fail to mention that fact, either prior to an introduction or during, no matter how casual the setting. (A contessa I know is always introduced by only her first and last name, but she points out that her title doesn’t mean anything, since Italy is a republic. And though she feels this way, I knew by the end of our first meeting that she is a contessa. The secret just doesn’t keep.)

The only part of what you said that I wonder about is the assertion that once everyone’s status is on the table, they can go forth and enjoy the start of a new friendship. Perhaps, if the room is full of other people of similar stature (wealth, fame, achievement or position). But if the room contains only one duke and some guys, it seems that the title must inevitably impede genuineness.

Anyway, many thanks again. I ordered your book last night and am looking forward to learning all the things I did wrong when working at the Senator’s office back in the day. Use of Names in Introductions

— Florence Brook   Use of Names in Introductions


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”