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Tyler, Professional Researcher & Musician
Category: General
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Experience:  B.M & M.M.. Skilled at in-depth research. Former police officer.
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What do you do when someone is coming towards you to hug with

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What do you do when someone is coming towards you to hug with cheek or possibly kiss you with a cold sore on the lips or face? This has happened to me so many times and I feel so silly stopping them and do something siily so I won't get near them. I don't know for sure what is on their face, but I don't want to take a chance. Also I have sensitive skin and can't tolerate perfume foundation on women. I do the same thing then too. I look silly. Is there omething classy that I can do or say? I have tried to tell the excuses mentioned but they seem to feel as though I am thinking that they are dirty.
Hi, and thanks for your question!

Emily Post's Etiquette Guide explains just this sort of situation and the most respectful way to handle it--that is (and I paraphrase here) it is best, XXXXX XXXXX two of you are approaching one another, to extend your hand with a "stiff arm", shake hands and then take a step back. The step back will establish a sort of personal comfort zone for you that the other person is likely to pick up on. It would of course be up to you to take the lead in this situation, as you are the one affected by it. I'm reminded of a scene from the movie "Fun with Dick and Jane" where Dick heads up to the top floor to meet the CFO. The CFO sees Dick and extends his arm, preparing for a handshake, some 50+ feet away. Obviously this is a bit over the top and meant for a comedic result, but the broader idea is the one you're looking for here. Post's book goes on to say that if you can't get out of a hug or cheek kiss you can either grin and bear it or simply explain to the other party why you can't get close. You most often couldn't say exactly what you were thinking, but if you were greeting someone you didn't see often you could claim you were slightly under the weather and didn't want to share germs, or you could just say you sometimes have allergic reactions to perfume. Even if they aren't wearing any, they would probably get the hint and back off. Once you make a quick explanation, if one is needed, quickly change the subject and move on. I'm sure it will be forgotten in no time! Hope this is helpful to you, best wishes!

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