How to be Appropriate


You know what I miss? When people knew how to be appropriate. I don’t know when it happened, but it seems people are crossing all kinds of lines of appropriateness. It’s like social etiquette has just been chucked out the window and everyone’s just winging it. It basically comes down to over-familiarity, the blame for which, I place solely on social media. People send you a couple of tweets and mistakenly think they’re you’re best friend. So, in an attempt to clear up the confusion, let’s outline levels of appropriateness on the two fronts it affects us the most:

The Kiss Hello

Can we stop this? Unless we’re in Paris, and even then it should be done sparingly. In a professional setting, when meeting someone for the first time, a handshake will suffice. I’ve been to too many meetings where people are leaning in the the double cheek kiss or even a hug. You’ve extended your hand for a shake and then all of a sudden you’re embroiled in this awkward fumbling of one kiss or two, where do my hands go? What’s happening? Talk about awkwardsauce.

Listen, if we’re here to talk business, let’s get down to it with a handshake and a smile. You do not know me to be touching me anywhere else. We just need to figure this out before it leads to a full on intercourse hello, which of course (unless you meet Idris Elba), is completely inappropriate. I propose a little addendum on emails that says what level of greeting you’re comfortable with, just to avoid that cringey moment when you meet, for example; a) firm handshake with an additional elbow tap, b) fist bump, c) one cheek kiss (applicable only after we’ve met a minimum of seven times) etc.

The ‘Hi Hun!’ Email

It seems every second email I get from PR people these days starts with a ‘Hi Hun!’ form of greeting. Excuse me? What? Who are you talking to? I don’t know you! On what planet is this deemed professionally acceptable behaviour? In the majority of cases, I’ve had absolutely no form of communication with these people prior to their email and this is how they think I should be addressed. Even if we’ve exchanged a couple of tweets, let’s not get it twisted and think that we actually know each other. The occasional tweet does not negate the need to be professional in your work life. Hun, sweetie, love, darling, at this stage I wouldn’t be all that shocked to get an email addressing me as ‘Sugar Pie Honey Bunch’. Cut it out! Find out the name of the person you’re communicating with and address them as such. Unless you know me on an intimate personal level, giving me a pet name is wholly inappropriate and actually kind of rude.

Look, I get it. The internet has brought us all closer together and sometimes we do just plain forget that actually, we don’t really know these people we’re communicating with. But professionalism is important. Familiarity comes with time, we work up to that. You can’t just try to dive straight into it. Relationships, either personal or professional need to be nurtured and these little bits of etiquette matter.

Or maybe they just matter to me? Does it irritate you when people are over-familiar with you? What’s your preferred greeting when you first meet someone?

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