For many foreigners, and especially English speakers, one of the more difficult things to adjust to is the Argentine way of greeting. By Argentine greeting, I mean giving a kiss. In Argentina, when you greet someone or say goodbye to them, you give each other one kiss on the cheek. This sounds pretty basic, but opens up a lot of uncertainty. Who do you kiss and who don´t you kiss? Only women? Teachers? Bosses? A friend of a friend? A friend´s parents? The answer to these questions is different for each country that kisses upon greeting, which makes this confusing and very uncomfortable for many people. Read on, and I’ll clear things up for you about how it´s done in Argentina.
First of all, let me explain how you kiss someone when you are greeting them (or saying goodbye). Here in Argentina, you touch your right cheek to their right cheek, and make a kissing sound. Done. If it is someone that you are really close to, such as a good friend or family member, you may actually kiss their right cheek with your lips. It is up to you.
In Argentina, it is usually just a kiss and not a hug, unless you haven´t seen the person for a long time, at which time you may do both. So what do you do with your hands? The most common would be to put your right hand on their right shoulder, and leave your left hand by your side, but you can do whatever you want.
Do men kiss to greet each other?
Absolutely. Although it is more acceptable to shake a man´s hand than a woman´s, it is common for male friends and co-workers to greet with a kiss. The kiss is done the same way, cheek to cheek.
Do you kiss when you meet someone for the first time?
If it is a girl, then you should always give them a kiss. If it is a guy being introduced to you by another friend, and you are a guy, you can do either or. Sometimes an Argentine will shake your hand, sometimes they will give you a kiss. The easiest thing to do is let them make the first move.; however, giving a kiss is safer, and will never be considered wrong. If you see them a second time, it is better to greet them with a kiss. If it is just a random guy, then you would just shake hands.
Do you kiss your roommates when you leave, and again when you come back? How about in the morning?
Argentines tend to kiss more than most Latin cultures, and if you are living with them, expect to kiss when leaving, when coming back, in the morning, and at night. Try to follow their lead, but this is likely how it will be.
This depends on what type of teacher. For school or university, this is not all that common, although it always depends. Some may greet their teachers with a kiss if they are very close. For other types of teachers, such as a Spanish teacher, Yoga teacher, Tennis teacher, whoever, it is common to greet and say goodbye with a kiss, though you don’t have to. If you are an English teacher, all of your students will often come and kiss you, especially after the class, even if you are male and they are male.
You boss and co-workers?
This varies a lot depending on the company you work for, whether it is small or big, and whether it is formal or informal. When you first meet them, you usually shake hands. Afterwards, it is not uncommon to greet your boss with a kiss, especially if it is a boss that you spend the whole day with. The same goes for co-workers. It is common to greet and say goodbye with a kiss, but is not always necessary.
You’re going for an interview, do you kiss the interviewer?
This would depend. Let them make the first move, because it could go either way. If they are female, expect a kiss, though they may shake hands. If they are male, and you are female, it could be either. If they are male, and you are male, they will most likely shake your hand.
Meeting someone´s family?
This can be tricky. If you are a girl, it´s easy; you would greet everyone with a kiss. If you are male, you would greet older males (think fathers and grandfathers) by shaking their hand. Younger males, females, and kids you would greet with a kiss.
There are no black and white rules, so until you start to feel comfortable, try to let the other person make the first move. In most cases, if you make a mistake, they will understand you are from a different culture and will not take offense. It is likely that at some point, you will go to shake someone's hand, and they will go to kiss you, or vice versa. This is common, and nothing to worry about. Try to learn the Argentine style greeting, it is a very warm way to greet people, and is really nice once you get used to it.
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