Sunday, May 18, 2014

German and Austrian Etiquette and Public Kissing

A kiss on the cheek is common in France, but will it become a thing of the past in German workplaces?
A kiss on the cheek is common in France, but will it become a thing of the past in German workplaces?

A society in Germany which advises on etiquette and social behaviour has called for kissing to be banned in the workplace.

The Knigge Society says the practice of greeting colleagues and business partners with a kiss on the cheek is uncomfortable for many Germans.

The society's chairman, Hans-Michael Klein, says he has received concerned emails from workers on the issue.

He advises people in the workplace to stick to the traditional handshake.

Speaking to the BBC, he admitted it would be impossible to ban kissing in the workplace outright.

"But we have to protect people who don't want to be kissed," Mr Klein added.

"So we are suggesting that if people don't mind it, they announce it with a little paper message placed on their desk."

Mr Klein said he had received 50 emails in 2011 alone on the rise of kissing on the cheek - sometimes both cheeks - as a greeting at work.

"People say this is not typical German behaviour," he said.
In 2013, transit riders in Vienna Austria, were told they would start facing a $70 fine and being pulled off transit trains if they kiss, consume smelly food, or yack too loudly on cellphones. Spokesperson for Wiener Linien, the company that runs Vienna's public transport claims: "Our controllers are well trained to recognize what disturbs other passengers." Vienna transit riders apparently like to flaunt convention. One couple was caught having sex. There are reports of naked passengers, and one passenger even nudged his pet horse on board. Discipline will be enforced by specially-appointed sheriffs. The company decided to impose the fines after it conducted a survey of their customers' pet peeves. From Digital Journal

Forgot his kissing etiquette?: The UK's George Osborne and Denmark's Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager lean in for an awkward embrace. Acknowledging their embarrassing error, Mr. Osborne and Ms Vestager made a quick recovery, turning their heads for a more customary kiss on the cheek. "It is not proper, according to strict etiquette, to give the kiss of greeting in public places; but when near relatives or cherished friends do choose thus to greet each other, the kiss should be exchanged unobtrusively and with dignity; conversation on private matters should be conducted in subdued tones, and a well-bred gravity--quite consistent with cheerfulness--should characterize the manner." Agnes H. Morton "Etiquette" 1892
"It has come from places like Italy, France and South America, and belongs in a specific cultural context. We don't like it, they say."

The society held a meeting on the issue, and carried out a survey of people both on the street and at their seminars, he said.

"Most people said they didn't like it. They feel there is somehow an erotic aspect to it - a form of body contact which can be used by men to get close to a woman."

He said there is, in Europe, a "social distance zone" of 60cm (23in) which should be observed.

The Knigge Society, named after a German guide to good manners, is based in a castle 80km (50 miles) from Dortmund in western Germany.
Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig Freiherr Knigge (1752 –1796) was a German writer and Freemason, most famous for his book Über den Umgang mit Menschen [On Human Relations]. Although the work is more of a philosophical treatise on the basis of human relations than a how-to guide to etiquette, the German term “Knigge” has come to mean “good manners”.
It has reportedly previously ruled on the correct way to end a relationship via text message, and how to deal with a runny nose in public.