The first book to explore this crucial and fascinating – but little understood – social custom of greeting
In 2008, Gordon Brown puts out his hand for a regular handshake, but George Bush goes in diagonally for a hip-hop style clasp, catching Brown off-guard. The result is an awkward tangle with three of Brown’s fingers sliding up Bush’s shirt. Photos are immediately shared across the world showing the act in full detail, as two personalities and cultures collide. Back home, an already struggling Brown is mocked for ‘losing his grip.’
From tortured tales of half-kisses with the boss to inter-cultural fumbling, everyone has an awkward or embarrassing story to tell. In an increasingly global and connected world, our ways of saying hello have become more confusing than ever. In One Kiss or Two? Scott takes us on a journey into the world of greetings and the people who study them, exploring how different cultures say hello. Air-kissing, high-fives, nose-rubs, cheek-sniffing and foot-kissing, sticking out tongues, floor-spitting, applause and face-slapping – different cultures have developed innumerable ways of greeting each other.
In One Kiss or Two? Scott explains that first impressions involve a complex and multi-sensory range of signals. What people say is important, but it’s the physical act of greeting that often has the biggest impact – our body language carrying around five times the impact of what comes out of our mouths. All of which is enough for business leaders and politicians to have commissioned scientific studies into finding the perfect handshake. After all, jobs and even elections have been lost because of the wrong grip.