Handshakes, one kiss on the cheek, two kisses on the cheeks, three kisses on the cheeks, hugs, or for the hipsters out there, fist pumps - what is your greeting of choice when meeting someone? Or indeed, do you even have a 'default' approach?
These are all variations of greetings that we give as we move through our daily lives, but what about when it comes to meeting people in the workplace? The sheer number of options at our disposal have created a social minefield and pretty much everyone I know has been in an awkward handshake slash hug slash kiss situation. In fact, the best story I've ever heard was that a good friend of mine managed to end up in a three-way handshake with her boss and a client, during an exchange in the office corridor, somehow managing, or at least we believe, to style it out. I'll leave you to imagine how that looked...
Then the kissing conundrum happened - thanks Europe. A handshake suddenly was not enough. Now we have cheek kissing in the mix, which by the way introduced a question that has still never been resolved. I can't even count how many times I have gone in for a second and caught my victim unaware, or even decided on one kiss and ended up being trapped in an awkward ear-kissing embrace.
And now we don't just need to worry about one kiss or two, a recent study has shown an increase in hugging in the workplace, which for some Brits is an absolute no-go. But is it really? Is a hug more intimate than playing cheek tennis? In my opinion, I'd rather go for a hug in some circumstances because you know what you're going to get. And you know you won't fall into the trap of a Trump-like hand-crusher (for those out there who do this, please stop). But of course, I work in PR, an industry that thrives on relationships and connections. And let's be clear here, I'd only employ the hug technique for someone that I feel that I know well-enough to share personal space, not a new business prospect or journalist that I'm meeting for the first time...I can't bear to image how excruciating that would be.
So how do do we navigate this greeting-rich landscape and settle on the right etiquette? Luckily for us a handy book comes out tomorrow - 'One Kiss Or Two? In search of the perfect greeting' . Perhaps we'll finally know... although a large part of me suspects somehow we'll never be truly sure.
As if there isn’t enough office politics to deal with, now we could have to consider risks like bumping lips with our bosses during a double head tilt gone wrong, or whether to cheek-kiss as well. Suddenly that split second in which you decided to stand up to greet someone ever so slightly too late could become an excrutiating mid-air, crouching, half-hug. Distractions: was the one-arm side embrace appropriate, or not? Did my line manager notice that a few rogue strands of her hair are now coated in lipstick? Should I... stroke your back? What should I do with my hands? Am I clammy?