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Kissing etiquette – what’s the pecking order?

February 24, 2012

Thank you to Chris Roys – Chief Executive – The Jessie May Trust for this valuable research

At the recent Bristol Business Network event Chris had a conversation about kissing with 2 other Bristol Business Network members – Inge Dowden – Polyglot Coaching and Laura Raschka – Business Environment 

It must be an annual event as in 2011 Alison Jobson – Straight Marketing an Exeter business Network member discuused the same topic!  Alison’s blog article is here

Anyway – thanks to Chris’s research the following can be used to help you avoid the pitfalls (spitfalls!)

Plan possible puckering professionally!

Debrett’s says this:

Social kissing is a potential minefield and is usually dependent on situation, age, background, profession and your relationship.

As a general rule, don’t kiss people you don’t know. Don’t kiss colleagues. Do kiss close friends and dates.

The key is to make your actions clear to avoid embarrassing confusion. Usually it’s right cheek first, but prepare to change direction at the last minute. Pull back decisively (but don’t be too abrupt) if you are just giving one. Be cautious with those you are less familiar with – two might seem over the top. If confusion occurs over one-kiss-or-two, take charge and go in for a second. Humour is useful in deflecting embarrassment over the meet-in-the-middle mix-up.

Just holding cheek against cheek feels insincere, but there is a fine line between an acceptable peck and an overly affectionate smacker. Cheek skin must make brief, light contact; sound effects, air kissing and saliva traces are to be avoided at all cost.

If you’d prefer to shake hands, be sure to hold yours out before any kissing manoeuvres begin but, if you’re part of a group introduction, don’t be the only non-kisser at the party.

But there’s loads of others to add confusion

To kiss or not to kiss?

2:41pm Monday 8th October 2007 in News

A kiss greeting is one of the most complicated issues etiquette can throw up.

How many times should you have met someone before you kiss them? What should you do if they’re older than you, or younger?

How can you read their body language to know what’s appropriate? And even if you pluck up the courage and go for it, should you go for cheek or air? One cheek? Both? Or maybe even three kisses? Don’t the French do three?

Or is that the Italians? This is exhausting. Time to ask an expert

Heather Pickering is an etiquette consultant for Protocol Plus, which provides tuition for individuals on business overseas.

Click logo below for full article

What does the BBC say……

Pecking order

Lipstick imprint


By Tom Geoghegan
BBC News Magazine

It’s the unspoken dilemma dividing Britain – one kiss, or two. Once the preserve of family and close friends, the peck on the cheek is creeping into all walks of life. But no one is sure when it’s suitable, and how many are appropriate.Greeting used to be a straightforward handshake, but not anymore.

You offer a hand and you get a cheek.

You give a nervous peck and then as you pull back you get offered a second cheek.

With the other person hovering awkwardly on their front foot, you go back in at speed to finish the job, leaving you both blushing and giggling in embarrassment. At least a clash of heads was avoided.

Welcome to the social minefield of greeting in 21st Century Britain – how to judge the expectations of the other person, without appearing over-familiar or uptight?

Click Logo for the full article

I’ll leave the last words to Will Powers


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