Hugs and Kisses in the Workplace | Business Etiquette

Since February is the month for love, it brings to mind the issue of hugs and kisses in the workplace.  Are they proper or not?

Meredith Sweetpea consulted Emily Post’s The Etiquette Advantage in Business, by Peggy Post and Peter Post to find out. Here is what they say:

Hugs and Kisses

In the entertainment and fashion fields, greeting with hugs and kisses is positivly de rigueur.

But in more traditional business settings, greetings should be less dominstrative, with kissing and hugging generally avoided.

In some cases, business associates who have not seen each other in a long time may feel a hug or a kiss on the cheek is in order, but they should be discreet or avoid such greetings entirely. Another consideration: No matter what profession you’re in, avoid close contact with another person when you are ill. It’s more welcoming to tell someone you have a cold and keep your distance than to risk infecting him or her.

Hugs and kisses in greetings usually take these five forms:


Kisses on the cheek are better left to social situations. In business, men and women executives should refrain from kssing in public, since even a peck on the cheek might sometimes be misconstrued. The occasional peck on the cheek is the exception when the parties know each othe rwell, especially when they greet each other at quasi-social event like a convention.


What began as a way of avoiding lipstick traces and smudged makeup is now a fad. The lips are puckered and the cheek is put alongside the other person’s cheek; a full-fledged air-kiss repeats the gesture on the other cheek. The habit of air-kissing often looks artificial in a business setting: To the person watching, it looks insincere; to the recipient, it may seem all the more artificial.


Save this two-arm hug for old friends or for business associates with whom you’re especially close and haven’t seen for a long time.


Engaging in a momentary clutch (each person placing his or her arms briefly around the other person’s shoulders) is sometimes appropriate among businesspeople of the same sex, but only if they have a close personal friendship as well.


This involves grabbing each other’s right upper arm or shoulder with the free hand while shaking hands. It is best used by business associates who haven’t seen each other for a long time but maintain a warm relationship.


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