The Knigge Society — Knigge translates as etiquette or correct behaviour — says the practice has flourished in offices around Germany in recent years, with women kissing women and men kissing women, sometimes even twice in the way of the French.
It says it has received worried calls from Berlin, Munich and Dusseldorf over recent months about what to do if someone should attempt to kiss them in greeting.
Hans-Michael Klein, the chairman of the group, said, “This is valid immediately. There should be no kissing, at least not in the office.”
Klein explained, “The suspicion for many remains that there is, or may be, an erotic component to the kissing. Kissing simply gets on the nerves of many at work. It is a form of terror. In business the handshake is considered the correct greeting ritual. Stand apart from one another approximately 60cm [24in] and shake.”
Any closer, he said, would be crossing over a “socially defined distance zone.”
Klein added that, while he had respect for the French habit, and the Russian one of men kissing men, this was not the German way. He added that it was an affectation of the so-called Schickimicki set — the in-crowd.