top of page

A Beginner's Guide to Social Greetings

Christmas is the time of year when we mingle with those in various social circles. The quandary comes when we’re not sure how to greet them. What’s the proper protocol when you see your boss at an office party? Do you slap him on the back or give him a high five? Or none of the above?

Having observed both ends of the social spectrum and everything in the middle, I have listed guidelines for those wondering what to do.

Handshake: The most formal method of greeting a stranger. Grasp his/her hand firmly, lean slightly forward, then gently squeeze and pump their hand once while smiling at them. You will notice there are four categories of hand-shakers.

a. Fingertip Butterfly: when one barely extends her fingertips, then quickly pulls away. Try to avoid doing this.

b. Knuckle Buster: Used by the guy who wants you to think he pumps iron every day.

c. Limp Fish: Used by fragile elderly ladies. Avoid doing this one, too.

d. Hand Pumper: The person who refuses to let go of your hand, pumping vigorously while carrying on a conversation. It makes you feel like saying, “Can I have my hand back now?”

HUG: Usually reserved for more intimate friendships. See below.

a. Social Hug: Embracing the other person while kissing the air beside his/her head

b. Dodger Hug: One person moves to hug the other person’s neck, leans to the right and the opposite person moves to the same side. Then they move to the left to correct, and so does the other person. Then they try to think of something witty to say.

c. Guy Hug: This is the most humorous to watch. When two macho men quickly squeeze one another while whacking each other on the back.

It looks as though they are trying to dislodge something from the other guy’s throat.

d. Side Hug: What one gives a person with whom he is moderately friendly. Stand beside him/her, put an arm around them and give a quick squeeze.

FIST BUMP: Can be used as a greeting, but also as an affirmation when a person does something noteworthy, such as shooting a trophy deer. Often used as a greeting between socially awkward males. Convenient way to greet your annoying brother-in-law whom you haven’t seen in five years.

HIGH FIVE: Given when your team wins a game, or you have just run across the finish line in a marathon. Or when playing volleyball and someone executes a good spike. Raise hand high in the air and slap the other person’s raised hand. Important: aim for the hand, not the face.

There you have it. With these guidelines in mind your next social encounter should be a breeze.

Now that you have been versed in proper social protocol, keep tuned next Thursday for a side-splitting description of male social greetings. Written by one of our sons, it’s guaranteed to make you laugh.

What about you? Any suggestions for social greetings this holiday season? Tell us about them below.


bottom of page