In the UK, there is a myriad of things that you learn as a foreigner;
Don’t smile at random people
on the Tube in the street
Stand on the right side of the escalator and walk on the left
“Alright” is greeting and you should say it back – don’t tell them your life story Lollies are Sweets
The one that I’ve honestly struggled with a little bit is the greeting kiss. Work is fine, I greet most people with a handshake. It’s when we get to the social aspect I come a little more unstuck. With people I know and have known for a long time, I hug, and they probably get a kiss on the cheek.
It’s more when I get to hang out with people who I don’t know really well, but know well enough to see socially. Do you kiss, do you handshake, do you kiss on both cheeks? Do you hug? Do you just stand there awkwardly smiling and wave like the Queen?
Normally it’s fine, and they take the lead you can kind of do what they do.
It can lead to trouble though – at Christmas, my boss (female) and I almost kissed on the lips – not because we were drunk, but because I went to peck her ‘Merry Christmas’ on the cheek. Problem was, she went Left and I went Right. It could have been quite awkward.
Thankfully we laughed about it & did it right, but I’m not even sure if I should have done it. I discussed it with my hubby later and he laughed about it, but I think sometimes it’s one of those things that make you do still feel like a foreigner at times.
I think at the end of the day I’ve managed to wing it for over 5 years, and everyone who knows me now can expect at least a shoulder hug. Maybe I need to ask people to specify how they prefer to greet? Ask them to fill out a questionnaire perhaps. I’m in the middle of reading “The Xenophobes guide to the English” and it’s really interesting. Perhaps it will tell me.
Maybe I just need to rest my tired brain today.