Face off


Hand? Cheek? Both? … Neither?

As a very poor reader of visual social cues, I’ve developed a maxim to save me from ‘meet-ups’:

‘Being a writer, I’m better in print than in person.’

Yet sometimes business requires me to deal with clients or suppliers face to face.

This fraught activity threw up a curly one a while back:

When greeting a woman in a business context, under what circumstances (if any)
should you shake hands or kiss her?

On this occasion, I got it half right.

Alas, the wrong bit haunted me long.

I’m hoping you can guide my (our?) future forays into female flesh.


I’d been persuaded to meet two fairly-sexed representatives of a key client.

As usual, I arrived at the bar early enough to work myself into a nervous lather.

By the time the businesswomen arrived, I was eyeing the exits.

The first lady – a particularly sunny soul – strode up, grabbed my waist with both hands and pulled me close for a big, warm smacker on the cheek.

It was charming, but shockingly unexpected.

Reeling, thinking of my wife and reasoning that the safest course was emulation, I turned to her colleague to follow suit.

At my first touch, the second woman stiffened visibly. I actually felt her body lock up. Wide-eyed, she slanted an icy cheek at me, from which I promptly slid.


Utterly flummoxed by these extreme social climate events, I struggled through the meeting vowing never again to go within 2 km of a female associate.

While my further dealings with the first woman remained as happy as ever, things with the second went from bad to worse.

This saddened me, as I’d tendered an abject apology for missing my cue.

Over the coming months, we drifted further apart … until one day I woke and she was gone.

Kiss & tell

As this is so not my scene, I’m totally relying on you to set me straight.

Whether you’re male or female, young or old, on either side of the commercial fence, I beg you to table your views on manual vs oscular interaction.

Is kissing ever on?

If so, when?

If not, but the other party puckers up, what the hell are you supposed to do?!

What about staff, bosses and co-workers?

What if there’s one of you and ten of them?

What of cultural considerations?

And what about farewells, team drinks, milestone celebrations and xmas parties?

Collated, your tips will form the ultimate interactive guide for our utility and pleasure.

So thanks for your help in advance.


🙂 😐 🙁  ?

Paul Hassing | Founder & Senior Writer – The Feisty Empire