What's Your Daily Greeting to Your Team?
A friend of mine recently went to work in Spain. From his central city offices, he and a multi-cultural team all work together to achieve service excellence and productivity.
He has one minor problem. It’s slightly embarrassing but he’s unsure of how to address it.
The UK staff members all arrive in the morning, grab a coffee and salute their fellow workers with a gruff ‘Morning!’. When the German male and female colleagues arrive there is a sharp nod and a solid ‘Morgen’ and with the Spanish colleagues they have a light touch ‘Buena's Dias!’ or simply smile.
Then Marie arrives. Marie is a glamorous lady from France. When she enters the office, she actually goes round the department to every individual and kisses them on both cheeks. Everyone. Every day. Then at the end of the day she does the same thing. Kisses on both cheeks – for everyone!
Now some will read this and say - ‘What’s the problem?’ and for me there certainly would be no problem at all with this. But for my friend he really struggles with it. It’s too much. He begins to dread each day because the proximity of the person, for those few seconds, is just too close. For him it goes beyond professional into personal.
Years ago I used to frequent a bar in Northern France where it was very like this. All men would shake hands on entering, and women would kiss both cheeks. I actually thought it added to the communal atmosphere in the bar – as you ended up talking to everyone - in a way you really don’t in the UK. That is a social situation of course – I can leave the bar at any point if I am uncomfortable with it. At work it’s different.
We should not discourage friendliness or the cultural heritage that has made this friendly greeting a traditional custom for this lady. It’s actually wonderful that she wants to do this at the most human level.
So what would you do? Under what circumstances would you kiss a colleague in the office? Every day? Once a week? Returning from a holiday? Under the mistletoe at Christmas? At the office party? We’d love some opinions and stories about when this type of interaction was fine – and when it wasn’t?