Common Courtesy

Long-time friend, Teresa C., wrote to share the following:

While this seems basic to me, I’m surprised how frequently people don’t ask my permission to introduce another person to me but request my time by cc’ing the other person and assume I am willing to meet, putting me on the spot.  Additionally, it surprises me when the person making the introduction fails to tell me why it is important to them that I meet with the individual to whom they are making the introduction.  What advice do you have for me?

Oh, just reading the scenario makes me cringe… mostly because I worry that I have done this to others… even this week!  Ugh.  Apologies to anyone who I have made uncomfortable!

Let’s just put it out there:  It is rude and insensitive to be presumptuous about other people’s time.  We are all so busy – and some weeks are even more stressful than others, which are already jam-packed.  We should never, and I mean never, try to co-opt others’ schedules are assume that they have time to meet with us, let alone another person to whom we are making an introduction.

Additionally, because we are busy AND because when we are willing to meet with others we want to be helpful, if no context is provided for the meeting, we are unlikely to be prepared to assist.  It may even turn out to be a big waste of time – for both parties – if there is no sense for the purpose of the meeting.

So, a couple of bits of advice:

  1. Ask permission. Before making an introduction with the built-in presumption that the two parties should meet, ask permission of each person to ensure that they are willing and able to honor the request.  It’s just common courtesy to do so.
  2. Provide rationale. When you make an introduction between two people, make it mutual.  Give each person a brief explanation of who the other is and why they should consider finding a time to visit.
  3. Allow for options. Instead of prescribing when and how two people should come together, after you have permission to make the introduction, encourage them to come to an understanding based on their interest and availability for when and how they will meet, if at all.
  4. Share your misgivings. If someone has put you on the spot or made an inappropriate introduction, tell him/her.  You can simply request that, in the future, they touch base with you in advance to let you know who and why they want to connect you with another person and to seek your permission before doing so.  You can explain that your time is very limited, and you prefer the option – instead of the assumption – to allow for or deny the request.

Have you been on the giving or receiving end of such a transaction?  What was your experience?  How did you handle it?  Please take a moment to share your experience with the CLC Community at CoffeeLunchCoffee.com.

2 thoughts to “Common Courtesy”

  1. Alana – I know I’m guilty of making introductions without asking permission, but here’s my thought process on it:

    1. I try to only do it with people who I know enjoy networking and meeting new people. I would be unlikely to make an introduction to someone who doesn’t seem to have that interest.

    2. My view is that it’s an introduction, not an obligation to meet. To carry along with your suggestion – I leave it open for the participants to decide if it’s just an email exchange, a phone call or a meeting.

    3. Your point about putting context into the introduction is critical. It could be as simple as I think you all could help each other out and that you’ll enjoy meeting – but I agree that you need to supply some background for both.

    Just my $0.02 as someone who does this a lot – hopefully I’m not actively offending a bunch of people out there…

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