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.
'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'
'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'
'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'
'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'
'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'
'An entertaining, thoughtful and intriguing exploration of what makes us click'