The UK-India Business Council has updated its advice for British businessmen, explaining amongst other things that they should refrain from kissing their hosts when visiting the subcontinent. Apparently the Brits have become a nation of kissers, accountants included.
Having left the UK nearly twenty years ago, I always assumed that the latitude I was given to greet school reps on the World MBA Tour with a kiss was in part to do with my adoptive home of France. But as Carol McLachlan, a personal development coach explained in the Guardian this week, « Everyone’s doing it. Bank manager and customer. Boss and employee. Any old colleague. The rule seems to be if you’ve met them even once, you kiss them. And in business circles, certainly, that very definitely wasn’t the case three years ago. »
Clearly I’m going to have to return to my old London office to see if there has been a sudden explosion of oral promiscuity in the ground floor IT department. Murray Davis of the University of California explains that « We kiss people we used to hug, hug people we used to shake kands with, and shake hands with people we used to nod to. »
The hugging I’ve always identified with greetings in the US, awkwardly avoiding contact below the upper chest, but managing a few thumps on the back for good measure. And after many years of uncertainty in France, Belgium and Switzerland about one kiss, two kisses or even up to four kisses, I’ve retreated to one brush per cheek so I’m not left hanging out there unrequited.
What about business schools, whose internationally diverse students provide an immersion in cross-cultural training from day one of the MBA programme . One of the reasons they went back to school was for the network right ? If kissing is the new networking tool to accelerate forming our professional relationships, will we see Kissing 101 as part of the MBA core curriculum?
Has this been an issue for you? How has MBA student interaction and networking changed over the years ? What are the stories, funny or sad, about cultural differences on your school campus ?