How does the saying go? There’s no second opportunity to make a first impression. In many cases we make that first impression as soon as we greet someone. Get this wrong and it will be really hard to correct.
Imagine that you meet your boss, who is with an important client, in the hallway. What should you do? Who should take the initiative?
The business world is all about hierarchies. The lower-ranking individual is always introduced to the higher-ranking person. In this case, your boss should make the first move. He knows everyone and is playing the role of “host”, making him the one who should introduce you.
It’s a different story in a private setting, where special rules apply. Women are introduced to men; younger people to older ones.
Oftentimes, especially at bigger events, it is impossible to remember everyone’s names first time round. If you don’t understand a name, then ask politely again. This signals your interest in the person and that it is important to you to get their name right.
The go-to greeting in Central Europe is the handshake, no matter what the event or the time of day. Northern Europeans are often a little more reserved – they might settle for a friendly nod of the head.
And please remember – these days a kiss on the hand should be reserved for very special occasions. Watch what the people around you are doing – oftentimes there will be a short queue at the entrance or cloakroom. How is everyone behaving? Taking your cue from them will help you to get your bearings quickly, even in an unfamiliar setting.