‘Life is beautiful not because of the things we see or do. Life is beautiful because of the people we meet.’
February’s ‘On Brand Brief‘ just happened to fall on Valentine’s Day, so in keeping with the celebration of romance it was themed around kissing (and other greetings) …. yes, I know! Time to pucker up 😘.
Seriously, this is a question I get asked about frequently at events: when should I shake hands, kiss, how many kisses, bear hug …. So many opportunities for things to go array and awkward moments in this aspect of personal branding and impact!
I’m often asked, ‘what are the rules when it comes to greeting business colleagues?’ This area is often a challenge because, there are no rules! Greetings in a business environment can be a minefield and require a good dose of awareness and emotional intelligence. If someone sticks out their hand, it is clear they are expecting a handshake not a kiss.
If in doubt, take control, offer a good, strong handshake, with great eye contact and a big smile.
Honesty and a little humour can always help if you’re really not sure. If it feels right, a comment such as: ‘a handshake feels a little formal, are we hugging?’ ensures everyone is in agreement and avoids any awkward moments.
Often, in a professional setting, kissing is unusual unless you know someone well or are meeting them at a more social event. In a networking environment or more creative setting, people may be more expressive in their greeting. You will have people in your network who are naturally more formal – I try and remember who they and greet them with a warm handshake.
Kissing is complex. One, two, three …. apparently in some parts of Afghanistan it’s customary to kiss up to eight times!
If you are travelling be prepared. I had my own tricky teenage moment on a school trip to Greece. We met some very pleasant boys from Belgium. I had in the back of my mind ‘three’ …. a little unsure I went for one on each cheek and planted a smacker on the mouth. Needless to say, they were impressed, I was mortified.
In the UK it varies between one and two kisses on the cheek. The ‘double kiss’ has become more popular, with ‘etiquette guidelines’ saying the man should kiss the woman’s right cheek first. If you prefer, let the other person take the lead and be ready.
So what action should you take? Whatever your decision, plan your strategy and if you do decide to advance, do so with confidence!
Adapted from February’s ‘On Brand Brief’ Newsletter. If you’d like to receive On Brand Brief in your inbox each month please subscribe here.