You lean in to greet your friend with a kiss on the cheek while he goes in for a hug. You both pause mid-air or you land your platonic peck somewhere near his ear and apologize afterward. It is an Awkward Social Dance.
The First Encounter
When meeting someone for the first time, hold out your hand and go for a handshake. You have not known that person long enough for you to be making facial contact with each other. It’s the safest and most universally accepted form of greeting and also saves you the time and trouble when navigating through a crowd of strangers.
Grip the acquaintance’s hand firmly, but do not squeeze. Etiquette expert Alex Frampton says, “For a good handshake, put your palm and thumb out straight so your hands connect well.” You will also get a “much better result out of a good handshake and good eye contact and a smile, than a little kiss on the cheek.”
Of course, there are instances when a social kiss is appropriate during a first encounter. In the fashion world or when being introduced to a long-lost family member, you may go in for the cheek kiss. Assess the situation and the environment in which you two are introduced in and go from there.
*In France, at least two kisses are given. The number of kisses depends on the region
**Social etiquette in Spain dictates that only men kiss women
Two kisses are not as common in the Philippines, so the number depends on your culture. When meeting a foreigner, perhaps someone from France or Argentina where they tend to land more than one kiss, allow them to make the first move if you aren’t sure. Don’t try to plant one on someone from Japan. Offering a bow is enough.
To ease your way into that
1. In any case, the general rule is to come in from your left and kiss the receiver’s right cheek first. Not everyone got this memo so be prepared to change direction at any second. It pays to remember that in France, they drive on the wrong side of the road, so their kisses start from the opposite as well.
2. Make your intentions clear so the receiver isn’t surprised when
3. Air kisses are a no-no. They seem superficial and defeat the purpose of this intimate act.
4. Avoid leaving traces of saliva or lipstick on another’s cheek. That’s just unsanitary.
5. Hold off on the kissing sounds. Mwah-
Suppose you had a lovely time chatting with a colleague you just met and after an hour of laughing at each other’s jokes, you feel like you’ve found a sister in her. In this instance—and it should be mutual—express how you had such a nice time meeting her by rewarding her with a goodbye kiss.