Does anyone else find this a little disturbing? Am I overly sensitive about my personal space? I like a good handshake - it tells me a lot about people.

Business kissing :The accountants' guide



bug_girl's picture

Eek! I actually have a huge personal bubble, so I'm not comfortable hugging people much (although people seem to want to hug me on a regular basis).  Arms-length for a shake is close enough, thanks--Kissing on the cheek just flusters me.  

(Yes, I am a typical Midwesterner. Have some tuna hot dish.)

I've learned to adapt, but generally, I wait to see what they are doing first.  If they hug, I...well, I try to hug.  Maybe we need a hugging podcast for the hugging impaired like me!  I'm sure it's clear that I'm don't know what to do.  I kind of flail around stiff armed and give them a pat on the back, usually. 

We have several folks visiting from South America right now, and fortunately they find my Midwestern rigidity endearing and cute.  I think by the time they leave us I'll know them well enough to actually give them a real hug :)

Also, sadly, that article you linked to has a homophobic/heteronormative tone to it:

"Seems to me the rule is, if you have ever met the person before even just once, then you greet them with a kiss. Male-female kiss, yes. Female-male kiss, sure. Female–female absolutely. Male-male, actually I'm not sure."

While I'm not a participant in the hugging/kissing when in Europe, I do really love that two guys who are friends can hold hands or give each other a hug without feeling like they are risking their masculinity (or fearing being beaten).  And can we please have a break from the "if 2 girls do it it's hot, if it's two boys it's icky" cliche?  Ugh.




Jazzman's picture

I don't think it's disturbing nor do I think you're being oversensitive.  It's simply a matter of what we're used to, cultural norms, and the inevitable mix of cultures.

Mainstream business culture in the U.S. does not include touching of any sort beyond a handshake.  Outside that group, it sometimes does include more than that.  Along w/ Bug_Girl's example, I've seen lots of times were Latin American norms for greetings were quite different (and have caused some discomfort up here in the U.S).  Additionally, it seems to me that people in the music business are a lot more "touchy-feely" than folks in "Corporate America."  My behavior tends to adjust accordingly.

It's okay not to feel comfortable kissing, hugging, or otherwise touching others.  It can be hard to tell what's inappropriate in another culture when you aren't familiar with it, so it's very much okay to have your own boundaries based on what you do know.  Learning more about the culture of the groups you interact with will help improve your understanding of their norms and ultimately improve relationships.


thaGUma's picture

As Jazz says its a cultural thing. In the Sudan men friends holding hands while walking down the steet is perfectly acceptable. In the UK even a man/woman cheek kiss is a minefield. We are trying to be European so yes it happens. We are trying to be non-sexist so it shouldn't happen as we don't do the man man action. We are trying to be non-threatening so women have to intiate, so we shouldn't do it. ... but it's trendy so go figure.  Go with the flow and be observant and try not to offend.

Think of me a left handed Brit spending a lot of time in cultures where using the left hand is a no-no. I literally have to sit on it.