To kiss or not to kiss – in a strictly business context!

This question has stemmed from the fact that occasionally I find myself in a bit of a quandary, doubting the appropriateness of a greeting kiss in a business context. When a female client recently asked my opinion on the same subject I realised it wasn’t just me after all – perhaps everyone out there is just as unsure!

So, at Spirus we have actioned some research; it is, after all, one of the services we provide! I called a small sample of Cambridge (UK) businesses that employ between 11 – 49 people, speaking mostly with MDs or senior managers to get their insights. And here’s what I found out:

Industry determines etiquette. If it is a very technical or scientific type of business, kissing is apparently never appropriate. In a more people-orientated business, or anything to do with media, well, all the rules go out the window!

It’s all a bit uncertain. There are many factors at play: how long you have known the person, how you know them (friends can sometimes also be clients!) to cultural expectations and of course, responding to the first move.

So hard and fast rules are few and far between but here’s what wisdom I’ve been able to glean:

1) You must actually have met them before (I have a story for another time here…!)
2) Two kisses, one on each cheek, seem to be the norm, unless it is a cultural difference and three kisses might be expected
3) Greeting kisses combined with a handshake are more professional
4) Accept that it is an indeterminable feeling or sense that might lead to it and try not to over-think it (note to self)
5) If you have kissed once, you will have to accept that you will kiss forever more!
6) No tongues

I hope you find this useful and if you have any other business etiquette questions that you would like answered for a future blog, why don’t you drop us a tweet #askspirus or e-mail us

Tania Verdonk is MD of Spirus, a Cambridge-based consultancy offering marketing, events and PR services to businesses throughout the UK.

2 Responses to To kiss or not to kiss – in a strictly business context!

  1. Jane Cattermole 23rd June 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Brilliant article about ‘to kiss or not to kiss’. I’ve wondered the same for ages now, as there are no hard and fast rules. Great to know it’s something others ponder too. The tip about scientific companies and ‘note to self’ about not overthinking are going to be notes I go away with.

  2. Ann Hawkins 23rd June 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    I agree with point number 6. Mostly I like hugs better than kisses 🙂

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