It should come as no surprise that I review, and re-review, all client interactions. "How could I have said that better?"; "How could I have handled that negotiation, and counter-response better?"; or "How could I have been more succinct in my thoughts?" The stammer, the "uhh", and the otherwise non-thinking verbalizations means my mouth wasn't working in perfect sync with my head, and I am always trying to improve on that. (That's French president Charles de Gaulle about to kiss/greet Argentinian president Arturo Illia in 1964.)
An article by the Post-Gazette - "Thorny etiquette problem", suggests:
Thirty years ago, a man greeting his boss's wife with a peck on the cheek would have been escorted to his termination interview for this unthinkable gaffe. Now, it's standard.Yet, how standard? Wikipedia has an entry about cheek kissing, but setting aside men greeting men, because, 99 times out of 100 it's a nice handshake, and for the rare hug, you know when that's gonna happen. But what about men greeting women, or women greeting men? Long-standing relationships often engender a warm and friendly hug, but the decision to continue your body's movement towards someone and pass the point at which a handshake is natural is, literally, a split-second decision. Yesterday, I made the wrong choice. I was greeted by a long-standing friend who clearly was expecting an embrace, as her arms were held open, and it was natural and appropriate for me to hug and give a peck on the cheek to this person, who is a client. This client, was with her client, whom also knows me, and after my first hug, I made the move from handshake to cheek-peck, and I knew milliseconds before I had arrived at her cheek that I should have stuck with the handshake, yet, it was too late.
I kicked myself for the rest of the evening. That feeling is like the feeling I remember from years ago when I would lean in for my first kiss with a young lady I would be courting, only to be rebuffed. It's a cringing feeling you always remember.
New York Magazine has an interesting article The Urban Etiquette Handbook, positing the following:
What’s the best way to avoid awkward crossed-signals handshake-meets-cheek-kiss encounters?They also have other interesting tips there, so check it out.
Remember: You can usually get away with unwarranted familiarity if your intended recipient sees it coming. Strike early:
- • If you or the person you’re greeting is a woman, start telegraphing your intentions before you make eye contact, either extending your hand or opening your arms according to whim. (Under no circumstances should you give a woman a fist pound.)
- • If it’s a masculine pairing, make eye contact and form your hand into the appropriate shake/fist pound/gangster-style-clasp shape before raising your arm. (And never give an elaborate handshake to the uninitiated.)
Next time, I'll try to telegraph better.
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