Michael walked into a meeting with a group of new clients. He went around the room and shook hands with everyone and said, “Nice to meet you.” But one of the last people at the table gave him a funny look and said, “I work here.” It was someone new who he had met once before, but obviously didn’t remember. Needless to say, it was an awkward moment for everyone.
This is the danger of “Nice to meet you.” When you are in a situation, especially a professional situation, and you are introduced to someone, a better response is always, “Nice to see you.”
Like Michael, I learned this the hard way. I was speaking at a conference where I had spoken the year before. A woman walked up and introduced herself. I used the, “Nice to meet you” line. She sheepishly replied, “Actually, we met last year. You gave me some really good advice and I wanted to thank you.”
I felt like an absolute moron. “Of course!” I replied as our previous conversation came back to me as she filled in the details.
I have also been on the other side of this equation. I’ve run into people who made a big impression on me. And it really stinks when they say, “Nice to meet you” with no recollection of our meeting or conversation.
Not remembering meeting someone is one of the biggest trust killing mistakes you can make. You immediately make the other person feel embarrassed and small. Save yourself and them that pain.
When you are introduced to someone, always say, “Nice to see you” with a warm and familiar smile. Act as if you have already met and you are very happy to see them. If you have indeed met before, it can come across as “How nice to see you again.” If you have not met them, it can come across as a much warmer “Nice to meet you.”