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Tis the season to be jolly . . . but beware of the Corporate Kiss!
07 March 2011
I wrote an article four years ago about the Corporate Kiss and I am reminded of its power as the silly season is upon us.
The Corporate Kiss is that chaste kiss on the cheek [two kisses, if you're up for a bit of European action] between two people in a professional environment, such as a networking event. Maybe there's a handshake at the same time; but the handshake will come first followed by a gentle lean in for the peck. It's a moment between trusted confidants, a socially acceptable token, a mark of recognition and dare I re-jiggle the acronym PDA to 'Professional Displays of Affection'.
But is the Corporate Kiss significant or demeaning? Is it a weapon of mass destruction or badge of honour?
Ultimately, the Corporate Kiss and PDA's form part of your personal brand. It's your choice to kiss but I encourage you to know why you are doing it and with whom.
The Corporate Kiss is part of my personal brand. I am grateful that over the years I have formed some fantastic professional relationships with some of them evolving into social and personal relationships. Indeed, this is how I met the Pompous Goose, my husband. For me, the Corporate Kiss is recognition of 'professional affection'. Yet, I have never unleashed the Corporate Kiss on all comers and I've had to manage a couple of situations when it got a bit icky ... for the Corporate Kiss can be a viewed as political weapon of mass destruction.
A woman seeking the Corporate Kiss with anyone with perceived influence and position may undertake the action with the intent of \"Look everyone...Look who I'm Corporate Kissing! Doesn't that make me important that we are on kissing terms!\" I will let you ponder that scenario and you can form your own conclusions.
In a networking environment, make no mistake, people watch who's kissing who. Obviously, the number of Corporate Kisses dished out during one event could indicate a great networker, someone who is affectionately accepted as part of the professional community. However, to the un-kissed, just take care with the assumptions you make about an ardent Corporate Kisser.
But once kissed, twice shy ... Can you ever go back to plain old handshaking? Of course you can go back. A polite, mildly assertive handshake while standing your ground with a tight lipped smile has worked for me. For those that are going for the 'lean in', maintain the handshake and place your left hand on their shoulder. This usually stops them dead in their tracks and creates a bit of temporary embarrassment that you'll all get over.
So, is the Corporate Kiss political? Absolutely. Dangerous? Potentially. Demeaning? Perhaps, if managed poorly. But remember, the Corporate Kiss and PDA's form part of your personal brand. It's bundled up with the choices you make at networking events, such as what you wear, what and how much you drink, the language you use and the conversations you have.
I'm certainly not prudish or a wowser ... far from it! But I do manage my personal brand in every corporate environment. My festive season's gift to you is Corporate Kiss ownership, simply own and take account for your Professional Displays of Affection.