“Thank you for the introduction” – the speaker began his speech with these five words with a smile and everyone in the room bursted out laughing. All the organiser did was to begin the meeting by saying “Alright. I hand it over to the speaker now”.
Like a ruminant animal, I started chewing the cud a little later. Why do we need an introduction and why do we need an introducer?
There is a saying in Tamil – “You hear the sound of the bell first before you see the elephant“. This is the classic advice: Your reputation precedes you. This was true until the elephants were few in numbers. Now, with the advent of the internet the number of elephants has inorganically grown. It is not so special anymore and you cannot identify just by the bell. In the current times, people have to establish trust. In order to establish trust they have to introduce themselves.
In the western world, introducing yourselves by talking about what you have accomplished is seen as confidence. This establishes trust. The energy of the person introducing himself/herself also determines how confident or passionate the person is. The idea of a resume or LinkedIn profile might have evolved from this basic mindset. This is why a person who is able to communicate well is able to go up the ladder much faster than a person who is skilled at task but is weak in communicating.
If you observe most of the industry talks (most, not all), the speech begins with an introduction about the speaker to establish to the audience that the speaker is well aware of the subject he is talking about.
When we grew up, we were taught to be humble about our achievements. We were instructed never to brag about our own victories rather focus on the next target. Talking about our accomplishments is not well received. It might even attract snarky remarks. Although this is changing now as more and more people have global exposure, most of the people are still uncomfortable when it comes to talking about themselves. Your goodness is judged by how humble you are about your accomplishments.
I can’t speak for others but I have a tough time talking about myself or introducing myself to others. Even though I have spent quite a bit of time in the Information Technology world, I find it odd to introduce myself as a manager of a team or a leader of a team. The best alternative I have found is taking care of a team. But sometimes, this is seen as lack of confidence from the other side of the pond. On the contrary, you also find people who verbally say I am a leader, enabler etc. As much as a genuine statement this may be, my cultural upbringing puts an invisible shield in front of me the moment I hear such statements.
Imagine two people, both in a high position in the corporate world responsible for huge areas. The first person does not talk about his/her own accomplishments, focuses on team’s performance, is not active on facebook, does not mention anything other than his/her actual title in LinkedIn, does not post articles on latest trends, yet is a great one to one conversationalist who actively listens to you and works on the points as promised. The second person is active on social media followed and liked by thousands of people, constantly adds value by posting relevant contents, brags subtly about his/her accomplishments, has a jargonized sentence for the roles he/she has played, also a great conversationalist who actively listens to you.
I am able to establish trust with the first person much more easily than the second person. This, I believe, is because I have always been taught that you should not talk about your own accomplishments. The only way your accomplishments should come out is when others talk about it. Probably, this is why an introducer is required. To establish the social proof.
Does it mean that I believe in somebody when an introducer talks about him or her? Not really. It depends how the person reacts when the introducer is talking about him or her. In addition to the fact that you are not supposed to brag about your accomplishments, it’s also taught that you have to be polite and humble when others talk about you. This is why many of us are not good in accepting compliments and redirect the credit towards others or act as if it was nothing. No disrespect intended. So, when somebody is grinning ear to ear with pride while the other person is talking about his/her accomplishments, the invisible shield comes up automatically. Even more so if there is even a slightest of the hint that the content was given by the person himself/herself.
Ok, where did I start and where did I end at? This is the end of the rant. What’s your opinion about this topic?