Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who said you can kiss me?

Yesterday it happened again, and it is as annoying as ever.

There is a certain type of male business acquaintance who thinks it's OK to lean in and give me a kiss even though he hardly knows me. I put out my hand for a firm, manly handshake, he takes my hand and pulls me in to kiss me on the cheek.

Passive aggressive? Patronizing? Is it because he can't pee on my leg to establish hierarchy?

Yesterday's case was a man I had only met twice, and each time in an office setting. His office. I don't know him, I have not been drinking with him, I don't talk about my family with him. Any of these would allow me to forgive him for the risk of giving me an uninvited kiss.

If our behaviors were reversed - if I pulled him in for a kiss - I'd be in all kinds of trouble, so why is it acceptable for an older man to do it to me? And don't get me wrong, it's not that I am standoffish. I am a hugger. Once you are my friend you'll get hugs every time I see you. Big, deep hugs. But seriously, you have to have some semblance of personal relationship with me first.

This type of aggressive behavior happens more often than you'd think - even when your title is CEO. But it is generational and unlikely to happen with a man under 50. But over 50, in the services industries like investment banking or legal, it happens because the individual is either trying to establish seniority or he's trying to create a relationship by acting as if the relationship already exists. When I was younger there were other less professional motivations of course.... but I suspect not so much any more!

But when it happens, being the professional English person I am, I smile politely and launch into the business discussion at hand, when inside I am distinctly annoyed.

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