Greetings and body language

We have all been involved in an awkward greeting situation at least once. You were going to give a handshake, and the other person was ready to hug you; then your hand got stuck between both of you during the hug. Sure, it was uncomfortable. But it does not always have to be like that.

In this entry we are going to talk about greetings and body language. When we greet someone, the greeting usually comes accompanied by some gesture such as a handshake or a hug. This article will help you avoid future awkward greetings.

Greetings in the United States tend to be informal. This does not mean there is a lack of respect, but it is rather done to show that everyone is equal.

The handshake

The handshake is expected to happen in business situations. At social events, Americans will often just greet with a simple “Hey” or “Hello”, or any other greeting. Also, when you introduce yourself to someone, you should stand up and start by saying your name followed by a handshake. The handshake must be short and have a firm grip.

Cheek kissing

Greeting with a kiss is very common in Mexico. It is appropriate among family members and friends, but in the United States cheek kissing is not as widespread. When it does occur, it is more of a romantic gesture, or it happens between adults and young children who are relatives. It might also occur between a man and a woman who are close friends. This type of kiss is short.


As well as kissing, hugging in the United States is less common, and it usually occurs between people who already know each other and share a close relationship. It is not required, but it happens.

Eye contact

Eye contact is very important. In some cultures, for example the Japanese, eye contact is considered rude, but in the United States, it is used to convey interest and attention. It is also common to smile to each other during the greeting. When someone smiles at you, make sure you return the smile back.

We recommend you try to experiment with the different greeting and be open to any greeting you might encounter. Do not be afraid and remember to be always polite.

Have you had any awkward greeting experiences? Have you been successful at greeting people? Let us know in the comments.


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