AEE 131: The Hug or The Handshake – How to Greet in American Culture

how to greet in American cultureDo you know how to greet someone in American culture?

Today you’ll learn how to avoid embarrassing situations when you are not sure whether to hug, handshake, or wave.

We had a question from a Chinese student.

She wasn’t sure how to greet American men.

It’s common for young American women or men to hug you as a greeting.

This student can’t hug a guy because of her culture.

What should she do?

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Here are some things to think about when you decide on a greeting:

  • Where are you?
  • Who are you greeting?
  • How close are you to the person?

 

We usually don’t hug people when we greet each other for the first time.

We shake hands when we meet someone for the first time.

After spending a few hours with the person you can give the person a casual hug to say goodbye.

 

What should you do if this is strange in your culture?

Just give a “light” hug and keep it distant.

Also try to watch the other person and follow their lead.

 

It also depends on the location/situation.

In a formal situation we might not hug the person.

Context is key.

We don’t hug clients, colleagues, managers, bosses, students, etc.

 

Don’t take it too seriously.

Don’t tighten up if you aren’t comfortable with the hug.

Stick your hand out first to initiate the handshake to avoid the hug.

You could also wave.

This would be a good way to keep some distance between you and the other person and to avoid the hug.

 

Learn how to talk about money in American culture!

 

Leave us a comment!

Have you ever been in an awkward hug situation?

What happened and how did you handle it?

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