Saturday, 24 July 2010

How do you do?

One thing I did find a bit awkward at the RNA Conference was the introductions. There were all these people I felt I knew from Twitter and email, some I "talk" to everyday, but when I eventually met them, I didn't know how I was meant to introduce myself. Should I give them two kisses like in Spain? A hug? Shake hands? An acknowledging nod of the head?

I've always feared the moment when you're introduce to people. In Spain, people normally give a kiss on each cheek, but that's usually once you've met them or if they're relatives. If you don't know someone or it's a business situation, you'll be shaking hands.
So, you get the awkward moment when you're introduced to friends of friends who you don't know, but it feels a bit too official to shake hands.

In England, I haven't been able to work out the customary thing to do. Some people will give you a hug, others will shake your hand and others will even give you a kiss on the cheek, but I haven't deciphered the pattern for doing this and I probably come across as curt when I'm introduced to someone because I always wait a moment or two to see what the person facing me will do or expects from me.

Have you ever found these moments awkward? Are there any tricks to know what I should be doing?


  1. I felt exactly the same! How do you greet people you feel you know intimately, crit partners you've opened your heart too and shared your darkest secrets with, yet are meeting for the first time?

    I'm so glad it's over and now I know so many RNA members. Next year I think we graduate to hugs.

  2. Definitely, I find moments like that awkward. I do exactly what you do and just wait a second or two to see what the other person may be wanting me to do, if anything. Usually I just smile and say hello. If someone wants a handshake, they better put that hand out!

  3. Haveing travelled around a bit, visiting different cultures, I can definitely relate. The difference between Japan, the US, France and Norway is incredible! In the end, I usually find that if I mess up with the very first introduction I can always fix it with a smile and an appology. Maybe you can turn the awkwardness into an ice breaker? Since there probably will be others who feel the same way, they might be relieved that you "come clean" on being unsure what the "code" is. Good luck :)

  4. That's the wonderful thing about England: everyone else is as awkward as you! Don't worry if you don't know what to do: I've lived here all my life and I still don't understand.

    I hugged my American crit partner when I first met her. But I have UK writing friends I've spent much more time with, who I've never so much as shaken hands with.

    Say hello, smile, take your physical cue from the other person, and remember that there are two groups of truly reserved people in the world: the English, and authors.

  5. Oh yes, definitely! I usually wait to see what the other person does too.

  6. Hi Sarah

    It's true the English are awkward. I always take my cue from the other person. If they're very tactile and lunge in for a peck on the cheek then I'm happy to lunge back with the best of them. I'm always floored by the double kiss though, at which point there's this huge awkward point where you end up kissing noses. I should expect it from the French and Spanish because they're pretty consistent double-cheek kissers. I reckon it's fine, whatever you do as long as it's with a smile!

  7. Smiling and saying hello is usually good for us reserved Brits. Or you could do what I do and just hurl insults.

    Works for me.

  8. I hear you! I've blogged about this several times but I've never got a definitive answer on the kiss-handshake thing. Being Canadian I always used to go for the handshake first. But I found myself increasingly confused when I came to London. And if you *do* kiss: one or two?


  9. Gosh, this is funny. I thought I was the only one who didn't know what to do and I've realized everyone is just as clueless!!
    Thanks for your comments everyone, next time we meet I'll know you're waiting for me to take a step.


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