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German etiquette group calls workplace kissing a form of terrorism

A group that advises on etiquette and social behavior in Germany says the practice of greeting colleagues with a kiss on the cheek is uncomfortable for many Germans, even a "form of terrorism."
Kissing in the workplace 8 11 2011Enlarge
A familiar sight, but a comfortable one? German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets French President Nicolas Sarkozy on July 20, 2011 in Berlin with a form of greeting that one German groups thinks should be outlawed. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

The French offer two kisses — one on each cheek — to friends and colleagues at each meeting and departure, while in parts of Italy it's usually three.

Many Germans, however would prefer none, and one group is calling for an outright ban on kissing in the workplace.

The Knigge Society, which advises on etiquette and social behavior, says the practice of greeting colleagues and business partners with a kiss on the cheek is uncomfortable for many Germans, and even a "form of terrorism," the BBC reports.

As the Daily Mail puts it:

Germans can go their whole working lives referring to the person next to them in the formal "Sie," instead of "Du," and kissing has become something of a threat to the accepted order.

At school, they are taught to keep a respectful distance when greeting a stranger, to shake their hand and to bow the head just ever so slightly.

Knigge Society chairman, Hans-Michael Klein, says he has received concerned emails from workers on the issue. He advises them to insist on the traditional handshake.

"People say this is not typical German behavior — it has come from places like Italy, France and South America," Klein told the BBC, adding that "we have to protect people who don't want to be kissed.

"So we are suggesting that if people don't mind it, they announce it with a little paper message placed on their desk."

Klein goes so far as to refer to kissing in the workplace as "a form of terror," the Daily Mail reports, and he suggests to a "social distance zone" that should be observed.

"The suspicion for many remains that there is, or may be, an erotic component to the kissing.

"Kissing simply gets on the nerves of many at work. It is a form of terror.

"In business the handshake is considered the correct greeting ritual. Stand apart from one another approximately 60 centimeters and shake."