Business Kissing?

Wanda Holderman: March 27, 20080 Comments

Oh, now I think I've heard it all.......I thought a cordial nod and/or handshake was as familiar as you should become with business associates, but apparently, if you're in the global market, you need to know "etiquette of kissing standards". I guess numerous customs exist out there and the ordinary greeting may need some refinement.

Some cultures would consider it down-right rude if you did not kiss them during an introduction....but is it one kiss? do you shake first, then kiss? what cheek do you go for first? Do you also embrace, lean-in, lean-out? How about a shoulder squeeze? Oh, and then there's the triple-cheek-kisses (in Zurich). I was glad to hear that kissing the lips is a big no-no! NO frontal hugs (thank goodness!). I'm going to need a laminated card to remember all these when I'm traveling abroad! Oh, but I heard this is penetrating the US as well! I personally like the rugged handshake that will disarm someone (hehe).

I was happy to hear that for a first job interview and a complete stranger, there's no obligation for the social kiss. Maybe the CDC should do a study on which is healthier....handshake or cheek kiss, you know, I think if the technique were perfected the cheek kiss is probably a bit more sanitary.

See, I think about things like this too long...what about a woman that's very short, and a guy that's very tall, does she kiss his neck? What if you turn your cheek and they go for the other one and they kiss your nose? I buy the "on sale" lipstick and so what if I kiss the cheek and leave lipstick marks, am I obligated to then wipe it off, do I just tell them and let them do it? Who initiates the kiss? the higher ranking person?  Is smacking OK? What if the client has a spouse or guest, do I need to kiss them too? If I kiss business associates in a business setting, am I then obligated to do it in a non-work setting? Oh, and then there's folks who wear too much perfume or cologne, that means once you touch the cheek, the "fragrance" lingers on you!

Seriously, be sensitive to folks, be the utmost professional, show respect, take care about appropriate contact, and read your employee handbook on standards for conduct.