The Etiquette of Kissing and Hugging

The Etiquette of Kissing and Hugging

by Jacquie WiseABC 774 AM Radio - Etiquette and False Intimacy

I had intriguing conversations with talk-back callers to the ABC 774AM Jon Faine radio show, where I was interviewed this week.

The topic was the etiquette of kissing and hugging. We were talking about the air-kisses and lean-to gestures that pass as hugs that are an increasing trend, as are man-hugs.

Kissing and hugging your family and close friends is very different from the more formal air-kisses we give others. In a general context, one argument is that if you air-kiss and hug everyone indiscriminately, it leaves nothing special you can do to indicate you like and value someone.

Let’s not forget cultural and religious sensitivities too. You could seriously offend orthodox Jews, or an Islamic woman in full traditional dress such as a burka or niqab, who are not allowed to touch, even to shake hands.

As a therapist, I have to be very careful which clients I hug, especially if it’s cross-gender. Some people who are more reserved would feel very awkward if you were to lunge at them before a close relationship was established.

Come to that, some people object to hugs period.

I have an English aunt with whom I have a very close relationship who finds hugs ‘cloying’ and uncomfortable.

In a professional context, it would be seen as inappropriate to kiss and hug business colleagues in a meeting.

I have nothing against genuine hugs amongst friends, and I love it that men are more comfortable hugging each other now. Whilst a few of the talk-back callers agreed with Jon and me, some callers thought I was stuffy, and that I was being obstructive instead of encouraging the growing trend of warmth and openness and even universal love.

It is true that we in Australia once felt very awkward just shaking hands, whereas now it’s become common practice and we do it automatically.

Should air-kissing and hugging become the standard greeting for anyone?

How genuine is it, if we air-kiss and hug everyone on first meeting? I’d love to know what you think. If you want to listen to the discussion on ABC 774, click here.

If you would like more information on the topic of etiquette or intimacy, contact me directly to arrange a convenient appointment time.

I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve said here. You can give me your feedback, ask a question by email or post a comment below.

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