The etiquette of the business kiss can make for some pretty awkward moments. I know plenty of women (and a few men) who think nothing of going straight in for the kiss on the cheek, even on first meeting. Me however… not so much!
Of course, situation and context are important. In the Middle East, India and some Asian countries kissing (especially the opposite sex) is highly inappropriate, however if I’m in a European country where kissing is de rigueur then of course it feels more natural, but in Australia the rules are not quite so clear-cut.
While I kiss my girlfriends hello and goodbye and I always give the social peck to both men and women when I go to a party or dinner engagement, I’m not convinced kissing in a business context is appropriate. Perhaps its just me, we were not a particular “kissy” family, but it makes me feel a little confronted when I meet someone for the first time (or even second time) in a business setting and they greet me with a kiss.
If you don’t kiss you could be considered snobbish or aloof and if you do, it can make you feel uncomfortable. So what’s the answer?
I was curious about how others deal with this issue so I looked into what the etiquette experts had to say:
Jo Bryant, Etiquette advisor for Debretts.com follows the general rule of “don’t kiss people you don’t know unless you are introduced to them in a social environment”.
Jodi R. R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting suggests that “if kissing in a business situation makes you feel awkward, when you see other the person, … throw open your arms indicating a big hug and thus avoiding the kissing”.
The kiss is “happening more and more,” agreed Peggy Post, a spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute founded by the doyenne of etiquette. “We’re much more informal in everything from the clothes we wear to how we greet people.”
Ms. Post advocates the handshake and agrees that it’s better “to steer clear of kissing people of the opposite sex, which can be misconstrued in some cases.” This is especially true on first meetings. Later, kissing as a greeting depends on the relationship, she and others said.
So, I guess its take your cue from the situation, watch what others are doing and if you really don’t feel comfortable kissing in business then pre-empt with a handshake.
I’m interested in your thoughts and experiences on the issue. Feel free to comment and give me your take on “to kiss or not to kiss”.