Shake hands or hug? Awkward. Even more so, the kissers.

Real Estate Agent with & 9023635

So how do you know when to shake hands and when are you supposed to hug?  I am more of an introvert, so I like shaking hands.  Occasionally I get into that awkward position where one person wants to shake hands and the other is a hugger.  Then there is that awkward switching to hugging from a hand shake, and then back to a hug, and then leaning in for the handshake in the end but only partly grabbing the hand properly...    Whew!  I am so glad when that's over.

I really get into trouble with my wife's family - they are kissers.  Now I know we all have "The Aunt".  The one that kisses you on the cheek, and you can see that coming so it isn't too bad.  But I always get caught going to the "wrong side" with my wife's family.  Nose bumps, lip grazes, starts and stops, mid kiss corrections - it can get messy.  So is there some rule that you kissers have that you can post here in your comment that people like me can rely on?!

The awkward handshake versus huggers must have some rule, too.  How can you tell a hugger from a hand-shaker?  I can see the pucker coming on the kissers, but huggers sometimes lean in similar to hand-shakers and I get fooled into the awkwardness of the mid hug correction. 

After all is said and done I usually laugh at the confusion after everyone is gone.  I like people.  I hope the ones that get a lip graze or a nose bump or handshake when they thought they'd get a hug laugh as much as I do.

Happy selling and listing!


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Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

Sounds like your mind is on all the family gatherings this holiday, lucky you. Just go with the flow and enjoy.

Dec 19, 2008 03:18 AM #2
Debbie Salmon
keller williams - Vancouver, WA

Thanks for taking the time to post this ... excellent information

Dec 19, 2008 03:19 AM #3
ama hender
Lone Tree, CO

This is so true! Huggers and kissers need to realize they make people uncomfortable. I always go for the handshake first unless it's a close relative. My dad has 2 friends that ALWAYS try to kiss me and it freaked me out as a young lady.  I have accepted one good friend now, and know that's his way. But when I go to hug him I turn away and give him a whole cheek. 

Dec 19, 2008 03:47 AM #4
Goodbye Active Rain
Out of Real Estate


Do what works for you.  Be yourself.

Dec 19, 2008 03:49 AM #5
Ilyce Glink
Think Glink Media - Chicago, IL
Best-selling author, award-winning TV/radio host.

Heath- This is definitely one of the more awkward parts of the holidays. Sometimes you can try to hang back a little bit to see if they extend their hand or their arms for a hug. Otherwise, I'm with Tony-- just be yourself! Good luck!

Dec 19, 2008 05:18 AM #6

Kissing, Hugging, Hand shakes.


It takes all kinds every individual will do there own thing.

 I'm a hugger a kisser and hand shaker depending on who I am with and where I am at.

 Know your Victim.

 Thanks Heath

 Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy holiday season.


Dec 19, 2008 06:51 AM #7
Dan and Amy Schuman
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Solon, OH
Luxury Home Specialists

I'm a big sports fan so I've tried the "fist bump" that baseball players do. Guys like it but the ladies think it's odd. You could also do the "chest bump" that I've seen NBA players do, but be careful who you do it with.

Dec 19, 2008 07:47 AM #8
Ann Cummings
RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent

Hi Heath - I've been caught in some of those awkward situations, too, and some of them you just don't see coming at all.  I just go with the flow, and if there are bumps and grazes, you just have to have a laugh about it.  Most likely, if it's awkward for you, it's awkward to the other person, too, and a smile and/or a chuckle when it happens is enough to break the ice and make everyone feel okay.


Dec 19, 2008 10:38 PM #9

It is all about body language...

In a very natural way, I developed signs that people can't miss!  There are people I really don't want to hug and they know right away, therefore they go for the hand shake... Actually I keep my hugs for people I really feel for (I don't like to be touched by strangers or people I don't wish to get close to). As for kisses, I am definitely not into it! A big warm hug is much more genuine!...

Yet, whatever the signal you are giving people, make sure it remains subtle! ;-)

Dec 20, 2008 12:59 AM #10
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker & - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

LOL.  Hugs oops, kisses maybe not.  Handshakes, hmmm...  how about a smiling wave.. LOL

Dec 20, 2008 03:25 AM #11
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Happy Holidays. It does not matter much when dealing with family. It is difficult when dealing with clients. It is a good idea to learn about different cultures.

Dec 20, 2008 03:29 AM #12
Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant
Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision - Lake Geneva, WI

This is a a cute post.  The last Ultimate fighter series had a fighter in the house they called "The Hugger"...well u can just imagine in a bunch of tough MMA guys what that was like....BUT...

They all accepted him and called him the guy that everyone likes, one of those guys u can't help but like.  When it came time to fight the hugger and the other fighter didn't tap gloves they hugged:-)

Dec 20, 2008 05:48 AM #13
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker & - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Family are easy to laugh with.  Its the customers I get akward with.  LOL

Dec 23, 2008 06:28 AM #14
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I am definately a hugger.  But I tell them when they extend their hands that I am a hugger and most of them don't mind.  I have a warm caring personality so they probably knew it before hand anyways.  I even hug the kids so they feel important too.  They love it

Dec 23, 2008 10:54 PM #15
Jon Wnoroski
America's 1st Choice RH Realty Co., Inc. - Green, OH
Summit County Realtor

Heath - You have to play that one by ear.  Hug the "huggers," kiss the "kissers," and shake hands with the "shakers."  Feel the "force;" you'll know what to do!

Dec 23, 2008 11:48 PM #16
Chip Jefferson
Gibbs Realty and Auction Company - Columbia, SC

I am not so introverted and I love my family so Im a kisser as well. Its hard to know what to do with different people. But hug the world if you can!

Dec 24, 2008 12:11 AM #17
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker & - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

LOL.  I must have not written this post with enough humor.  I hope I am not reading the comments too seriously.

Dec 26, 2008 11:39 AM #18
Pederson Properties Inc.
HK Lane La Quinta & Prudential Maui Realtors - La Quinta, CA

Heath - this is a GREEEAT blog! Thank you for posting this, as it is almost ALWAYS a topic; especially in our business. Your post had me rolling with laughter -- and everyone's comments were great to read, too! Let's see if we can help clear it up for you .... and others:)

But first, have you ever heard of the book by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway & George A. Borden titled: Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands (How to Do Business in Sixty Countries) - phenomenal book! You should definitely pick up a copy next time you're at Barnes & Noble, or Borders etc.

So, if you can't already tell by the enthusiasm oozing from my response ... I'm a HUGGER! ha! Actually, all the above, really. Born & raised in Hawai'i (Maui No Ka Oi) I usually greet with a hug & kiss on the cheek. Granted it's a teeny-tiny kiss, probably more of a peck - there are definitely rules!

Although knowing who should receive what is most likely a gift - or just learned over time - all should note the following;)

Shaking Hands - I think it was Donald Trump who said he doesn't shake hands anymore. Something about cleanliness? Yikes. Now I don't especially like shaking hands, however it's always a great default since you can't really go wrong ... But Please no death grips or masculinity contests. It hurts! Don't be lifeless & forget why our hands are connecting in the first place, though. Shaking hands shouldn't be difficult (although it's clearly impossible for some), Just stick with the medium squeeze: firm, but not proving;)

Huggers - The huggers out there usually know whether or not they should pursue with a hug or not but if you're not a hugger and are regardless about to get clobbered - just take it (!!) ..keep your arms to the side & if you're still standing, feel free to swing one or both arms around ... We're fans of the one arm hug; semi non-invasive, but still affectionate;)

Kissers - I can't imagine giving a Client I'm just meeting for the first time a full on kiss on the cheek - however friends, family, acquaintances, & all the Clients I've known forever (or feel like have!) get some cheek to cheek action. Important rule I wish everyone knew is the Kisser always turns Left - it will always be right cheek to right cheek if this manuver is about to take place! And when in doubt - as if you were dancing in one of the grocery isles, just pick a side and sick with it!!

Hilarious topic; props to Heath for bringing up those awkward moments, too - have had many of those and learned a lot living on the mainland. Like Amanda mentioned (sorta) Gotta be careful for the creepsters;)

 Hope our attempt to 'help' through a little humor works out for those future encounters!!

Pederson Properties




Dec 26, 2008 04:43 PM #19
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

It depends on who it is. No one I know is a kisser. Hugs are either with female family or with my "sweet little ol' lady" Clients. All else get a cordial handshake.

Jan 10, 2009 01:49 AM #20
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker & - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

Thanx Jim, I'm with you.

Gayle and or Jennifer, thanx for the notes!  And the book reference is probably one I should read.  BUT my family doesn't do the same cheek every time - thus the bumps!  I think I will refer them to your comment.  Thanx!  LOL

Jan 10, 2009 01:12 PM #21
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