To kiss or not to kiss? That is the question…..
The start of most business meetings in the Bermuda reinsurance sector are extremely routine with a room full of people who must be greeted. Some you might know, others might be strangers so what is the correct way to greet them? In other words, should you kiss your broker?
In our last newsletter, we asked members for feedback on this subject and the majority came back clearly favoring handshakes over kisses. For most, kisses were to be reserved only for those they knew well. Alternatively, one respondent said she continued to find it awkward to greet a person at formal meetings whom she knew too well – her spouse!
Another respondent suggested that the awkward question of what was acceptable could usually be avoided by taking control of the situation immediately and being the first to reach out and shake someone's hand. However, she acknowledged that mixed greetings in a room do happen and can cause confusion. Having kissed people she knew well, someone she met only once attempted a kiss while she extended her hand for a shake. They laughed it off, but it was an awkward way to start a meeting.
Below three coaches weigh in with their advice.
Heeral Gudka, Executive Coach and I&D Consultant at Convergent Consulting
As with any professional dynamic, I believe it's very important to first know exactly what you want and need to get out of the situation, and make adaptations that work for those situations. So when it comes to broker meetings or negotiations it might work best to acknowledge everyone in the same way. Which likely means a welcome kiss for each person isn't the best approach, particularly when some of them are strangers.
It's also always important to be clear who holds the power or bargaining chips. If the holder of power is you then it could be argued that you have a lot more flexibility as to whether you lean in for a welcome kiss or other warm greeting with whomever you choose. But I would be wary. If this question was being asked by a man and he held the power, would the originator of the question be accepting of him being free to exercise this in the same way?
Michael Crystal, Myriad Development
The best way to greet someone is in the way they want to be greeted. I have found, and many of those I’ve worked with corroborate this, that employing The Platinum Rule is better and safer than employing The Golden Rule. Following the latter, where you treat others in whatever ways you’re wanting to be treated, you are inclined to initiate the greeting, and that may cause you and the other person to experience a potentially greater chance of discomfort since your way and his/her way may not be quite the same; whereas if you employ the former – “Do Unto Others As They Would Prefer It To Be Done” – you take the guesswork out and are much more likely to achieve greater comfort by simply doing what the other person prefers.
Julia Pitt, Personal Development Coach and NLP Practitioner, Julia Pitt Coaching
It’s helpful to consider the question from one’s own perspective. How would you feel if some of the women received a kiss and you didn’t? [Is there a difference between greeting a peer with a kiss versus a client or a senior colleague? What if it’s not you instigating the kiss?]
In any meeting, there will be a mix of personalities and perspectives. What could the different interpretations of ‘selective kissing’ be? If there is a chance it could potentially create negative feelings such as alienation, disengagement or confusion, would you want to take that risk?
Further things to consider in the situation might include: cultural sensitivity, and whether varied levels of affection could lead to confusion or blurred lines around conduct and ‘relationships’ within the business setting.
Personally speaking, if kissing in the workplace poses uncertainties - opting for a consistent, more neutral approach (e.g. a handshake) might contribute to a more even and equal playing field.
Here is a sweet example of treating people how they want to be treated. It would be easy if we could all carry round a little board to point to!! Kids Choose Own Greeting To Start School Day
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