Home > Agency Life, Clients, Culture, Russians, Work > No More Kissing at Work

No More Kissing at Work

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I found this tweet from my colleague @TorontoLouise this morning:



Yes, @TorontoLouise, a thousand times yes. What better time to practice good hygiene than the onset of flu season. Especially since H1N1 vaccines are so hard to find, at least in the U.S. (I bet they have loads of them in Canada, they probably even come with a little quilted bag for your hand sanitizer and chapstick.)


Then I got to thinking, let’s go one step further. Let’s just do away with kissing in the workplace altogether. (Kissing as in air kissing clients, not getting busy on the xerox machine with hot co-worker.) Because you know what? KISSING AT WORK IS AWKWARD.









Awkward. (image via)


Kiss 2









Canadian and awkward. (image via)







Middle Eastern and awkward. (image via)


I hate kissing at work.  My mom always said etiquette was created so people know how to behave and can feel comfortable in any setting. The problem is – there is no etiquette for work kissing. There is neither rhyme nor reason to it –do you pull an air kiss or do you make lip-to-skin contact?  If you kiss one person in the meeting, do you have to kiss all of them? What if you’re in town seeing clients and it’s your second day of meetings? Kiss on the second day?

 And the cultural differences, oy. One cheek? Two cheeks? The Swiss do it three times for chrissake, what if you forget the third kiss? Ever pull away from a Swiss colleague after only two cheeks? Not pretty. They’re leaning in all puckered up and you’ve moved on, any attempt to complete the transaction at that point will probably result in injury. And the Swiss may be neutral but they can be grudge-y if you embarrass them. (People of the Russian Orthodox faith do the triple-kiss too. I’m married to one, it makes kissing very confusing.) 

Oh, I’ve heard nightmare stories. One of my colleagues tells of a work kiss gone horribly wrong, with a male client no less. She’s greeting him at an event, she initiates the Single Cheek Manouver, he turns his head ever so slightly and whammo. LIP KISS.


People, he had a mustache. The humanity.


I have my own inappropriate work kiss story. I was kissed by a colleague on the top of my head once. I realize I am not the most presidential of agency presidents but nevertheless – the top of my head? A little respect here, people. I kiss my 6 year old son on the top of his head for crying out loud. It was a year ago, and as you might have guessed, I still haven’t recovered.


Did you know there’s a WikiHow entry on how to air kiss? We shouldn’t need wikis to tell us how to kiss. Clearly the world’s gone mad. Look, I’ve got enough stress in my life. Oprah and @marielhemingway are telling me to simplify so here’s one thing I am forthwith no longer doing. 

I’m done kissing at work. I realize this might leave colleagues and clients bereft for the moment but I am quite sure they will thank me one day. And so will you.

  1. November 5, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Great post Stephanie. I’m with you. The handshake is easy to do, hard to screw up and universally acknowledged but kissing is a whole different ball of wax. As you know, here in Canada, a large part of the population is French-Canadian, thereby a little more European and the kiss is an essential part of greeting them. But for us anglophones in conservative old Toronto, it’s not that common. That means that everytime I’m expected to do it, I forget which cheek goes first, left or right. I fear I often pick the wrong one and it’s up to my hapless companion to swerve at the last minute to accommodate my ignorance.

    Before I sign off, I need to address one other thing in your otherwise spot-on post. We are in the midst of an H1N1 vaccination fiasco in Canada. We may have universal health care but, as with all things government-controlled, it’s horribly mismanaged at every level. For more details, check out my blog post, How to Screw Up A Vaccination Campaign (www.acallforclass.blogspot.com)

    Fondly (but not so fond that i need to kiss you), Louise in Canada

    • ssmirnov
      November 7, 2009 at 8:34 am

      Louise, thanks for the comments, the un-kiss at the end and of course, for inspiring the post in the first place. And in all seriousness, thanks for setting me straight about the vaccine situation in Canada. Quelle horreur. For real. I wonder what Michael Moore would have to say about that?

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