Small Talk: Introducing Yourself in English

Meeting People and Introducing Yourself in English

Introducing Yourself in English

Meeting New People
At Work, At a Party and in Your Neighborhood

Small Talk is an art. Some people hate it, some people aren’t sure how to use it, and for really friendly people like me, I love it, and I miss it when I move abroad to countries that don’t use it. The truth is, it’s everywhere. Americans and Canadians, especially, are really friendly people. We’re talkative, can be loud, and we love having a good time.

Introducing yourself in English seems really straightforward.

  • Hello, how are you.
  • My name is Kat.
  • What is your name?

But, that’s boring! It sounds a little uptight, and it can sound like you’re speaking from a script. So, today, we’re talking about 3 really common places where you meet new people and where you’re probably going to be introducing yourself in English: at work, at a party/event, in your neighborhood. 

Kat gives you a quick listening exercise as well with culture tips for each place as well as answers to questions like:

  • Do I shake their hand?
  • Should I introduce myself?
  • What do I say??

We’ll talk about it all here in today’s post.

Introducing Yourself in English – At work

Cultural Introduction: Americans are really informal at work, and we often talk to everyone in the office on a first name basis. If there’s a few people with the same name, it’s not uncommon to use their department to make it clear. “Go up and see Mark in Accounting about his quarterly reports.” “Yeah, just head down and talk to Lindsey in HR, she’ll get you squared away with the paperwork.”

When you’re introducing yourself to your boss or others you might be working closely with, you can use your first and last name to introduce yourself, however, it’s not really necessary. A firm/ solid handshake, however, is always necessary.

At Work #1
Hi there, I’m Kat. I’m new, I just started in the Marketing department last week. How’s it going?

At Work #2
I don’t think we’ve met yet, I’m Mark, I’m working on the Smith project.

At Work #3
I know we’ve seen each other around, but haven’t officially met yet. Kat. *sticks out hand for a handshake*

At Work #4
Hi, Stephanie? Morning, I’m Mark. I work with James in Engineering. He asked me to come by and meet you.

At Work #5
Hey, Matt, I’m Kat, James in R&D mentioned that we’d be working together.

Introducing Yourself – At a Party/ Weekly Event

Cultural Introduction:
Handshake or no handshake?

Shaking someone’s hand is usually reserved for introductions at work or formal settings, where you might be meeting colleagues or associates outside of work. In less formal get-togethers and really easy going situations, a nod of the head, wave of the hand “hi!” or a light handshake, barely grabbing the other person’s hand, are all okay.

Check the other person’s body language, some people like going in for a handshake, some people, especially in a small circle of people, will just quickly wave to say hi instead of going across the circle to shake your hand.

At a Party or Event #1
Hey there, I’m Kat, first time, have you been here before?
Side note: this would be a great opener for a weekly event or group that you’ve recently joined.

At a Party or Event #2
Hi! Are you Jennifer? I’m Mark, it’s nice to finally meet you.
Side note: This is great for when you’ve only met someone online as well.

At a Party or Event #3
Hey, I’m Kat, I’m a friend of John’s, do you guys work together?

At a Party or Event #4
Sorry, I’ve gotta go, it was nice talking to you, I’m Mark by the way.
Side note: small talk makes it easy to simply start talking to someone, and it’s becoming less and less important to actually introduce yourself, but if you want them to know your name, “by the way” is easy to use.

Oops, I forgot your name

I’m personally “very bad with names”. Sometimes I’m so nervous about meeting someone new, or I’m too busy thinking of what to say, and I completely forget the other person’s name! Forgetting people’s names happens all the time, so really don’t sweat it, just be confident and ask right away.

Forgetting #1
Hey, sorry, I’m so bad with names, what was your name again?

Forgetting #2
Hey, I’m really sorry, could you tell me your name again?

Forgetting #3
Hey there, I’m Kat, I’m friends with Stacy. She told me your name, but now it’s totally slipped my mind.
Hey, oh okay cool. It’s Mark actually.
Oh that’s right, you’re dating her sister right?
Yeah, yeah that’s right.

Forgetting #4
Having fun?
Yeah, it’s great, I’ve never been to Sara and John’s place before. Are you their friend from work? They just told me your name and now I’m completely blanking.

Introducing Yourself in English: In your Neighborhood/Local Park

Cultural Introduction: Some people like to keep to themselves around their apartment complex, but neighbors in a neighborhood of houses will often wave or say hi, especially to new people moving in, they’re probably really curious about you! Some people will probably come up to you after work to say hi or bring you a nice treat to welcome you to the neighborhood.

The local park is a great place to say hi to people, although you might not introduce yourself right away. Most people frequent the park at a certain time, so you might see them around a few times before you come up and say hi.

If you’d like to chat and you have a dog of your own, people with dogs are usually pretty friendly. Always give a big smile to people, even if you don’t approach them to chat. You can usually tell by people’s body language if they want to talk or not. People with headphones, joggers, power-walkers and anyone in the early morning might not want to start a conversation as they’re probably on a tight schedule. So just smile and maybe next time you can say hi.

In Your Neighborhood #1
Hey, how’s it going? I’ve seen you here a few times, but I never really got the chance to say hi. I’m Kat.

In Your Neighborhood #2
Hey, I’m Kat, the neighbor across the street, so where are you guys from?
Oh hi, I’m Mark, nice to meet you, yeah, we just moved in, we’re from England originally, this is our first time living overseas.

In Your Neighborhood #3
Hey, I’m Kat, we just moved in upstairs and wanted to ask you a quick question if that’s okay.

In Your Neighborhood #4
Hiya, we just moved into the neighborhood and wanted to say hi. I’m Mark, and this is Kat.

In Your Neighborhood #5
Oh, what a sweet dog. Hi, I’m Kat, I’ve seen you guys around when I walk my dog… we just moved here a couple of months ago.

Questions to avoid: Where do you live? Do you live… (specific place/house). These questions are a little too direct, and Americans NEVER tell strangers exactly where they live. (Strangers are bad!) Stay very general by asking questions like: “Which neighborhood are you in?” “What part of town are you?” “Have you always lived around here?”

In Your Neighborhood: Parents Meeting other Parents

Cultural Introduction: Personally, I think one of the biggest ice breakers is just having kids. Parents, when they’re meeting other parents, maybe at an event or at the park, just introduce yourself as so-and-so’s mom or so-and-so’s dad. That’s the easiest way to introduce yourself, and then you can use other expressions and questions that make it really easy to chat with the other parent.
*so-and-so is casual for someone you don’t know! In other words, I don’t know your kids’ names 🙂 

Parents #1
Hi, I’m Kat, I’m Lily’s mom, I think our kids are in the same class?

Parents #2
Hi, I’m Mark, I’m Josh’s dad, could you help us out with something?

Parents #3 – Continue the Small Talk

  • Which one’s yours?
  • Do you have a second grader, too?
  • Oh, does your little one do swim class, too?
  • Is your little one a swimmer, as well?
  • How old is your little one?

Introducing yourself is the first step in getting to know someone else, and we hope this post helps you feel more comfortable when taking this first step!

For more information on Small Talk and other helpful posts in natural, conversational English: check them out here: Small Talk Posts


Kat and Mark

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