I grew up in a culture where handshakes and hugging were normal.
You meet new people – always a handshake. You meet up with friends, you hug to say hello and goodbye. Sometimes, you have friends that hit the hug into left field and give you the best, strongest hug ever. And as you part ways, you feel calm…and a bit more loved.
Then, I moved to Spain.
From what I’ve seen, these are my new rules:
- Dos besos. You greet pretty much everyone with two kisses.
- Hug. Incredibly intimate and only saved for people you know very VERY well.
- Handshake. I’ve seen this in business situations…especially if someone is international.
- Saying “hi” with zero physical contact.
In order to learn how everything typically happens, I spent a year (still learning!!) watching business and social interactions to figure out when a handshake becomes “dos besos” and if anyone ever hugs anyone else….in public.
From what I’ve learned, there are “rules” but they are not consistently held. So I say hello (with zero physical contact whatsoever) and let the other person take the lead based on their comfort level.
What typically happens…me being me, I end up standing like a statue, with my hands at my sides, just staring at the other person, waiting for them to lead. Because the worst thing that can happen is I subconsciously go for a hug when they go for dos besos and we end up awkwardly untangling ourselves in front of a huge crowd that decides to walk by at the same time (haha).