One Kiss Or Two?

One Kiss Or Two?
In Search of the Perfect Greeting
Andy Scott
Price: £
  • Hardback
24 Aug 2017
  • Non-Fiction
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Every encounter begins with a greeting. Be it a quick ‘Hello!’ or the somewhat longer and gracious ‘Sula manchwanta galunga omugobe!’, shaking hands or shaking, well, rather more private parts of our anatomy, we have been doing it many times daily for thousands of years. It should be the most straightforward thing in the world, but this apparently simple act is fraught with complications, leading to awkward misunderstandings and occasionally even outright violence.

Why is that? Why are greetings so important? Can we ever find the perfect way of saying hello? In the illuminating and entertaining One Kiss or Two? Andy Scott – a well-travelled former diplomat, and no stranger to fumbled first contacts himself – goes down the rabbit hole to take a closer look at what greetings are all about. In discovering at how they have developed, he uncovers a kaleidoscopic world of etiquette, body-language, evolution, neuro­science, anthropology and history.

Through in-depth research and his personal experiences, and with the help of experts ranging from the world-famous primatologist Jane Goodall to the UK’s etiquette coach par excellence William Hanson, Scott takes us on a captivating journey through a subject far richer than we might have expected. By the end of it, we are able to make more sense of what lies behind greetings – and what it means to be human.


'A hug? Are nods ever sufficient? Fortunately,  Andy Scott... may have some answers' The Times

'Diplomat Andy Scott speculates on the origins of the cheek-kissing tradition ...and how to avoid a social faux pas no matter where you are' Conde Nast Traveler

'Andy Scott reveals the origins and psychology of greetings and illuminates many other aspects of human behaviour with meticulous research, acute insight, infectious curiosity and gentle humour. You can tell a lot about a species from its greetings: this book introduces us to ourselves' Kate Fox, bestselling author of Watching the English

'Scott's winning study... combines scholarly rigour with a voice that is funny, warm and humane. I can't imagine a better guide to the intricate art of saying hello' Joe Moran, author of Queuing for Beginners

'From the ubiquitous handshake to the, thankfully, less popular genital grab, Andy Scott's vade mecum of the social science and background to the world's many greetings is infallible reading for any member of civilised society' William Hanson, British etiquette coach and columnist

‘After reading this book, I feel liberated’ Thomas Blaikie, etiquette coach, Literary Review

'An elegant, deftly woven treatise on the philosophy of the greeting, leading us to contemplate underlying truths about human nature. A great pleasure to read' Adam Kendon, world expert on human interaction and author of Gesture

‘Nearly 300 pages on social kissing and shaking hands! But it’s fascinating; a scholarly study’ The Lady Guide to Modern Manners, The Lady

'Who would have guessed that so much lies behind a greeting? As Scott demonstrates so ably, it's not just etiquette, but also history, evolution and brain function ... popular science writing at its best' Chris Frith, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology, UCL

'An entertaining, thoughtful and intriguing exploration of what makes us click' David Reynolds, historian and author of Summits: Six Meetings That Shaped the Twentieth Century

‘[An] enlightening survey of greeting customs from around the world . . . Scott covers a surprising range . . . Emphasizing the virtue of human connection throughout, Scott’s buoyant study is reminiscent of the work of A. J. Jacobs in its breezy mix of pop sociology, personal anecdote, and self-help’ Publishers Weekly

'In this delightful, sometimes-provocative literary debut, [Scott] draws on talks with experts, including sociologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists, primatologists, evolutionary psychologists, body-language experts, and ethnographers; readings across disciplines; and his own research . . . [to give readers] a fresh, spirited look at cultural differences' Kirkus

Andy Scott

About Andy Scott

Andy Scott has greeted people in more than 60 countries. After gaining a PhD in History from Cambridge and holding visiting fellowships at Yale, he joined the Cabinet Office in 2009, where he worked on a range of domestic and international projects. He has since then served as a diplomat in Libya and Sudan and been a consultant to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and is now a Conflict and Stabilisation Adviser in the UK Government’s Stabilisation Unit. He lives in London, but still calls a small village in Suffolk home.