I Need Some Cheek Salve

Yeah, so I’ve talked a lot here on the blog about my job and working with folks around the globe. I am having a lot of fun and getting pretty gosh darn smart about the different cultures in the regions where I’m working.

But there’s one thing I’m having a LOT of trouble with.

It’s the kiss-cheek greeting thing.

The Euro folks seem to favor this method, and it’s not one cheek, but both. Shake hands, smooch one side, smooch the other side.

Suddenly, I become VERY rigid when I see these supplier reps coming in for a landing on my face. Gah!

Just this week, we had a VERY large meeting where there were, I kid you not, eight people who flew in from London for a meeting. I greeted them in the lobby and had to kiss-kiss all eight of these sumnabitches.

I don’t even know all of them. Hell, I don’t even LIKE most the ones I do know.

But they all stood in line to smooch-smooch me.

Then…when the two hour meeting was over, it was time to leave, and they all lined up to smooch-smooch me on the way out.

I felt a little…mauled…by the time the day was through.

Might I add that I was the only girl in the room of eight external people and five coworkers. There was no kissy-kissy between the guys. No, I got the brunt of the moist greetings.

Damnit! I’m an American! We like a little bit of space in our greetings! Also, I’m no good at the kiss-kiss. I never know where to land the thing. Do just sort of kiss the air? Or do I actually place it? And what if, horror of horrors, I miss and land it wrong?

I did accidentally bump noses with one of the dudes. Is that bad form?

All that aside, it just seems…wrong…to get to get that intimate with a freaking supplier. They aren’t my friends! They aren’t in my confidence! THEY ARE SUPPLIERS and therefore need to be treated at arm’s length to be sure they remember their boundaries.

Then again, maybe this is all a negotiation tactic to throw me off my game. Ooh, if I think about it that way, this kissy-kissy crap seems diabolical.

Mostly it just makes me uncomfortable.

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  • Richard

    Great post and great blog! Best wishes!

  • Elise

    If you wear lipstick, you’ll only have to kiss air. Mwah mwah, turn, mwah mwah. Can’t muss the makeup! And besides, no one wants lipstick on their cheeks. Keep some bright, shiny, gooey stuff in your office and apply liberally when you see them coming.

    Watch a couple of episodes of Ab Fab for good examples. Wow, there’s a sentence that probably hasn’t been written very often!

  • Ur Bro

    The hardest thing about learning how to live in Asia has been giving up my American sense of maintaining personl space. Arabs, Indians, Asians, have no respect for American personal space. Europeans may do the kiss kiss, but an Indian will stand nose to nose with you while having a conversation, and for a good ol boy from New Mexico/Texas it took a bit of self control not to punch the guy in Saudi who took hold of my hand while we walked through the plant an on to the canteen.

    The other thing difficult to get used to is the bathing is optional attitude. We Americans are clean freaks and it is culturally unacceptable to go to work with shall we say essence of BO unless you dig ditches or you are a rough neck or a tool pusher on a rig. But in Asia (and much of France) bathing is pretty much optional, which makes elevator rides (especially to the top floors of the Petronas Tower) an interesting prospect.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Elise – I have to be careful watching too much AbFab. I might learn some other bad habits too! LOL!!

  • Karen Fayeth

    Big Bro – Yeah….that whole space issue. That’s a tough one. I get some of that here in my very multicultural areas. “Back off there, sir” is often on my mind.

    The hand holding? Well…you are a better (and for more well traveled) man than I. I would have yanked my hand away and wiped it off on my jeans.

    Thanks for helping put my Euro kiss-kiss anxiety into perspective.

  • Ur Bro

    Just for the right image he was big and pretty hairy as well… When he heard I had just married off my eldest daughter he also asked if I had any others that I might be interested in making arrangments for…..

  • Karen Fayeth

    Big Bro – I’m guessing you refrained from mentioning your two other beautiful daughters? “No, nope, sorry, only boys….”

    It’s a wild, weird, wonderful world.

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