The Social Kiss: How to Properly Kiss Someone Other Than Your Spouse From cultural backgrounds to social occasions, use these tips to address people properly with or without a kiss. BY DIANE GOTTSMAN
How do you kiss someone other than your spouse?
“ Don’t kiss someone you have never met before. It’s too much smooch, too fast.”
Who would have thought an innocent gesture of goodwill could cause so much confusion among friends, family, associates and even your spouse at a social function? When to kiss, how many kisses, left cheek, right cheek, both cheeks, lips or not? Have you ever greeted someone with a handshake and a cheery, "Hello" only to be surprised by an overbearing hug and a wet smooch on the lips? Regions and cultures often dictate kissing rules, but the bottom line to the kissing dilemma is this: When in doubt, don’t!
In the business world, the corporate environment plays a significant part in our decision to kiss or not to kiss. Conservative fields, such as accounting and banking, may offer you a friendly handshake, while someone in the arts may offer you a cheek and outstretched arms once a comfortable relationship has been established.
Some things to consider before taking the plunge include how well you know the person, whether it is a business or social occasion and your own motive behind the friendly affection.
The following are some general kissing rules. Although they are not written in stone, you and your spouse can practice these techniques when faced with a social engagement. Keep in mind that much of this depends on the personality of the kisser.
The Cultural Rules Of The Kiss:
1. The fabulous French seem to enjoy a kiss, more specifically two—once on each cheek—starting on the left.
2. Most Italians are warm and demonstrative and particularly enjoy bestowing their kisses on close friends and family.
3. The Germans are more reserved and considered not as kiss-friendly as the Italians. While they do not object to kissing their family and close friends, a handshake is the best option when you are unsure of how to proceed.
4. Spunky Spaniards like the two-kiss rule, often starting with the right cheek and moving left.
5. When greeting someone from the United Kingdom, a nod and handshake are the safest bet.
6. African tribes show homage to their leader by kissing the ground on which he or she has recently walked. (Hey guys, try this on your wife sometime and see what happens!)
7. Americans love to kiss, especially in the South. It is not unusual to greet a friend or colleague with whom we are comfortable, with a warm smile, extended arms and a big smooch to the cheek. Although, the protocol in business is to shake hands, it is not uncommon to turn clients and colleagues into friends and family, so the clearly defined line often becomes murky.
General Rules For Kissing:
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.
9. Finally, the discreet use of toothpaste and a toothbrush or breath mints before a passionate kiss with your spouse is always welcome.
Now, do you have a handle on all these kissing rules? If so, pucker up…
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com.