Last night I attended a wonderful social evening, where a handful of business owners met up to discuss some cool spiritual stuff. We were having a pretty amazing conversation about intimacy in business, and what that actually looks like.
Nothing inappropriate here (!), more about how connected we are to others in the business world. Personally, I think that the business world has come a long way in embracing connection, even in the last five years. The discussion last night was generally around being authentic and vulnerable with others.
It ties in nicely with a conversation I had earlier in the day with the extraordinary Simone Ellen, whose spectacular Genius You program I am about to complete. We were working through the key brand proposition of my upcoming Academies, and agreed that through a potent mix of both personal and professional development, love and passion can be fully embraced in the role of the sales professional. It’s more heart and less hype, and truly exploring people’s authenticity, connection and vulnerability to celebrate sales as a caring, worthwhile career, and one to be proud of (watch this space, we are kicking off a total rebrand around this in the new year).
Often when we think of intimacy, it relates to touch, so it got me to thinking about that age old dilemma; how do you greet people in business?
Particularly those who you see regularly, say in a coaching scenario? Personally, I have found this quite a minefield in the past. I am sure many of you are like me, a hugger, but we cannot assume that everyone we meet is as well, and there can be that really awkward moment where you are going in for the hug, and they are going for the handshake, and it all just gets a bit mucky. Or what about when you meet a group of people at a networking event, and two or three are people you know, so you hug them, but handshake the others? I went to an International Coaching Federation session once, where the answer to this question was ‘let the other person decide’, but then that can result in a weird situation (say if both of you have heard that advice) where you are both hovering in front of each other, waiting for the other one to set the scene.
Is it easier to ask for permission and simply say ‘can I give you a hug’? Sounds smart, but what if they are not a hugger? Are they going to say ‘no’? That could be even more embarrassing for both of you. Here's an article from Inc Magazine which provides some hints on when to and when not to hug.
What about kissing? There are three types of kiss here, 1. The peck on cheek 2. The European inspired double or even triple kiss and 3. The ON THE MOUTH (or even that weird kind of half way on the mouth?) kiss! It surprises me how much more prevalent the latter has become recently (probably to be fair in more social than business situations), I do find myself on the mouth kissing far more (wonderfully special) friends, both male and female than previously. How do people who don’t like their personal space being invaded cope with that?! I think the basic rule is reserve kissing on the mouth for your partner, but doesn’t it really just come down to mutual consent (although it’s probably easier for everyone to avoid this one in general in business!)?
Societal rules and etiquette are put in place for all sorts of reasons, and some certainly seem archaic these days. However, courtesy and respect for others is massively important, so I think the best way to approach this minefield is (1) take your cue from the other person (2) if you don’t want a hug (or mouth kiss!), step back and get your hand out to offer a shake as soon as you can and (3) trust your gut, don’t make a big deal out of it, and more often you will find the awkwardness is taken out of the situation.
And as for those back slappers?!