Workplace Kissing: A Big Problem in Germany, Apparently

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In business, it’s important to be courteous and to respect cultural differences. But etiquette experts say Germans can’t stand all the cheek kissing.

The custom, a common way to greet people in many other parts of Europe and South America, has been proclaimed no longer welcome at workplaces by German etiquette watchdog group The Knigge Society.

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Hans-Michael Klein, chairman of the society, told the BBC that this practice creates discomfort for many Germans, who are more used to just shaking hands. Although the society cannot officially ban it, “We have to protect people who don’t want to be kissed,” Klein said. “So we are suggesting that if people don’t mind it, they announce it with a little paper message placed on their desk.”

He said he received 50 emails this year alone to complain about kissing as a greeting at work. “[The custom] has come from places like Italy, France and South America, and belongs in a specific cultural context. We don’t like it, they say.” Klein also said the acceptable social distance in Europe is 23 inches apart.

Not sure how many cheek kisses is the norm is in the country you’re traveling to? Let’s revisit this guide from a past issue of TIME. (via BBC)

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