Chrissie has been over-analysing lately. In particular about the virtual kiss and where it fits into the world of professionalism…

I’m a serial kisser. Not real kisses, but the ‘X’ type at the end of text messages and emails. The thing is, not everyone else likes to use the affectionate sign-off.

To me it’s an innocent symbol of ‘I quite like you and I’m going to strip the formality out of this. Let’s be friends!’ If you’re like me, beware: those with a stiff upper lip can have utter contempt for this over familiar approach. They think kissers are idiots – people who have no control over their emotions and who are likely to spoil a perfectly professional relationship with their awkward display of patheticness.

There are some people in my professional circle who kiss every time. There are others who do it never. And in both scenarios I tend to follow suit. And that’s fine. We all know where we stand. But there are others who kiss sometimes, presumably depending on their mood. These confusing kissers lead you on, leave you hanging and generally make you wonder if they are intentionally playing a cruel game with your emotions.

Serial kissers will know that kisses can be withheld in situations where a display of disapproval is warranted. In a world of instant and remote messaging, where much can be misconstrued and misread, there is no mistaking the obvious slap in the face of the absent X. I use this tool with my boyfriend every day.

And then of course there’s the question of whether an X compromises professionalism. Does a kisser get taken less seriously than a non kisser?

The question I always ask is ‘why so serious?’ And since when did professionalism equal a lack of emotion or affection? At this point I could lead quite smoothly into a discussion about crying at work and how damaging that is to your credibility as a professional, but that’s for another blog! One thing I will say is that serial kissers might well be serial cryers as well. (I am not admitting to this. I’m not.)

Forgetting professionalism for a moment, let’s explore about the obvious male/female dynamic here (because let’s be honest, plenty of affairs are instigated in the workplace). Perhaps the weirdest thing about virtual kissing is when it’s between members of the opposite sex and no-one really quite knows where they stand. Is it there for a reason or just out of friendliness? If someone kisses, do you kiss back? If you don’t you’ll almost certainly look cold and unfriendly. And you’ll probably make the kisser feel stupid. But if you do kiss back, you might be encouraging a further advance that you really don’t want. Then you’ll just be accused of being a tease!

In some situations there is no way to win.

I have a few clients who sign off with an X. A few are male, most are female. I have close friends of both sexes who never use a kiss. I don’t know if they’re trying to keep an emotional distance from me or are just not the soppy type. But I have decided it doesn’t really matter. Clients, colleagues and friends know me well enough to know that I’m a bit emotionally unhinged and unorthodox. Everyone else can learn that the awkward way!

In summary, I have compiled a list of rules to ensure kissing doesn’t open a can of worms. I hope it helps the undecided to maintain a respectable reputation:

  • Be selective. Kiss who you know you can get away with kissing. Not someone who might well take it as a come-on or someone who will just think you’re a prize prat and will look upon you with disdain from that moment on.
  • Be consistent. If you’ve started kissing someone, kiss them every time. You’ll look emotionally unstable if you stop and start. Or worse still, it will look like the ‘one time’ might have been an accident. And that you’re happy to kiss other people, but this rogue kiss was an awful mistake, the thought of which makes you want to vomit a little.
  • Reciprocate. Unless the email is from the office pervert and/or you have pathological hatred for the sender, kiss back – at least once. Or you’ll look like you have intimacy issues.
  • Consider the relevance of your industry and reputation. Kisses from lawyers are bloody weird. From PR darlings they are a recognised form of arse kissing.

Glad I could help! x