Research into business meeting and greeting etiquette on behalf of London City Airport reveals:
A YouGov poll on behalf of London City Airport, the UK’s leading business travel airport found that, regardless of gender, many of us struggle with appropriate business greetings – more than a third of Brits (38%) who have ever attended a business meeting have felt awkward or uncomfortable about the way they were greeted.
Compared with our European counterparts, Brits are far more likely to feel out of their comfort zone than respondents in Italy or Switzerland (8% and 10% respectively), rising to a little under a quarter in Spain (23%). Our Irish neighbours are more aligned with the UK, with 36% having felt awkward or uncomfortable.
The traditional handshake is no safe bet, with almost a third of working Brits (32%) saying that a weak handshake would put them off doing business with someone. However, we are more forgiving than other European nations on this matter. On average 42% of respondents across all five countries agreed they would be put off, rising to two thirds of people in Italy (63%)
British women are more likely to have felt awkward or uncomfortable about a business greeting than men – 53% compared to 44%. One third (34%) of UK women who have attended a business meeting have been called ‘love’, ‘darling’, or ‘sweetheart’ and felt it inappropriate, with ‘love’ the most common (26%). More than a quarter of UK men (27%) have been called ‘mate’ in a meeting and felt the same.
The increase in popularity of kissing as a business greeting could go some way towards explaining the awkward experiences, with one in five people in the UK (19%) who currently attend business meetings having greeted female business associates with one or more kisses (22% of men).
It would appear that we have tried to embrace our inner Mediterranean, however we still have a long way to go, as three quarters of people in Spain have greeted female associates with one or more kisses (75%) and more than a quarter in Italy (28%). The Irish are the least likely to greet with a kiss – just 12%.
London City Airport, known for its high proportion of business passengers, commissioned the survey to find out how people feel about business greetings and how feelings differ between nations. Declan Collier, CEO of London City Airport explained:
“People travel through London City Airport every day to do business in Europe and we all know that first impressions count. If the encounter is awkward or you are distracted by how you’re going to greet the person then that vital first impression could be affected. By understanding how business people across Europe feel about greetings we can approach meetings with more confidence and a clear idea of what will be expected.”
Although the survey found that an average of almost one third of Europeans (31%) now greet female associates with one or more kisses, a quarter of those who have been greeted with a kiss said that they find it unprofessional (25%). In fact, 22% of Brits said they try to avoid it altogether, along with 20% of respondents in Switzerland.
The survey also looked at things that give a bad impression in business meetings. Bad manners, body odour and arriving late came out on top in each of the five countries, with the exception of Italy where swearing was considered worse than tardiness.
In Switzerland, a person checking their mobile phone in a business meeting would give a worse impression than swearing, while in Ireland, untidy clothing would be worse than un-fresh breath.
As a result of the findings, London City Airport has issued three top tips for getting it right with business greetings at home and abroad:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th April and 8th May 2015. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) per country.
London City Airport (LCY) is the only London airport situated in London itself, just three miles from Canary Wharf, seven miles from the City and 10 miles from London’s West End and linked to all via the Docklands Light Railway. LCY offers a unique rapid transit proposition – a short check in (door to lounge) of around 20 minutes, and a shorter arrival (tarmac to train) of around 15 minutes. 10 airlines fly out of LCY, serving more than 40 mainly European destinations. The airport has permission to increase its operation to 120,000 movements per annum – carrying 6 million passengers - which it intends to do by 2023. Further information about the airport and its services can be found at www.londoncityairport.com or @londoncityair.
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