The business kiss

The Kiss, by Auguste Rodin

The Kiss, by Auguste Rodin

One of my earliest posts on this blog was about the business kiss. When is the right time to kiss in business? We had a long discussion about this at work the other day; probably because we were at a combination farewell and Christmas dinner – both events guaranteed to increase the propensity for kissing.

Dale Murray from the (UK) Telegraph is uncomfortable with the business kiss,

“Of course men don’t kiss each other at the start of meetings – and this is the crux of my concern. I do not want to be made to feel different just because I’m a woman – I’m usually quite different enough by that very fact….So, in the interests of fairness and professionalism I must advocate no kisses at all and just a standard, business-like handshake.”

Donna Gerson, in advice for new players, cautions,

“Watch for a leanin, but always keep your arm ready for a kiss-canceling shake. And kissing is best reserved for business relationships of several months’ standing.”

Lucy Kellaway, in the FT, asks for a Global Greetings Protocol (GGP),

“The GGP would be beautifully simple and go something like this: “In a business context the only permissible greeting is a handshake. The shake must be medium-firm and medium-brief. It does not apply to a) colleagues who see each other frequently and b) groups of more than six people, as shaking would take too long.”

Of course, as for most questions involving actual human beings interacting, rules rarely go further than mere guidelines. Here are some pretty good suggestions from (of all places) hitched.mag (entertains, educates and inspires marriages):

  1. Follow the leader. If your longtime client greets you with extended arms and leans in for a little peck, you do the same, unless you are uncomfortable. In this case, you should smile your most genuine smile, show your pearly white teeth and extend your hand for a friendly, yet professional shake. (Then start praying that you haven’t offended the owner of your largest account.)
  2. Don’t kiss someone you have never met before. It’s too much smooch, too fast.
  3. If you’re kissing someone that your spouse is uncomfortable with, cease and desist immediately.
  4. Lip-to-lip contact is reserved for only you and your husband or wife.
  5. Be a consistent kisser. If you greet someone with a kiss, don’t forget to pucker up to say, “Good bye.” Offering your hand for a handshake after a hello kiss sends a confusing message.
  6. If you are a habitual air kisser, grazing the cheek of the other person with your own, refrain from making the “Moi, Moi” sound into the other person’s ear.
  7. If your kiss includes a hug, a few short taps on the back are appropriate, but avoid pounding the back of the other person as if you are burping a baby.
  8. A quick sweep of cherry lip wax over dry and scaly lips is a gesture of goodwill.

Finally, do remember, that once you have gone to the kiss, in business, that’s where the relationship will stay.  There’s no going back to the handshake after that…

  1 comment for “The business kiss

  1. dexydog
    December 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    One consideration should also be the cultural context. Its not common for business people with Asian backgrounds to kiss. Bowing is probably more appropriate?

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