Greeting might be seen as a simple day-to-day practice that comes naturally to all of us, but the truth is that there’s more to it than just saying “Hi”. Whether it is waving, bowing or kissing, there’s always a cultural background and situational context to take into account.
Colombians stand out from the crowd due to their warm and friendly way of greeting. They adore showing their love for others and don’t mind a bit of hugging and kissing here and there. Needless to say, this behavior is shaped according to the person addressed and the particular context.
Keep on reading to learn the right greeting for every situation!
- Greeting a friend
- Greeting a family member
- Greeting a person you haven't seen for a long time
- Greeting your professional contacts / Meeting someone for the first time
Greeting a friend
Women give kisses and men give handshakes
When greeting a friend, Colombians will say “Hola!”, which means “Hi!”, and then cheek-kiss once on the right cheek. When it comes to close friends, the fine art of greeting goes even further. You’d lean to the right and give your friend a quick but warm hug.
Piece of advice: Don't forget to go for the right side. This will keep you from accidentally swapping spit with others!
Unlike many European countries in which men perform the art of cheek-kiss between them, Colombian men opt for a firm, but no crushing, handshake.
Greeting a family member
Colombian families are fond of showing their love to one another. This is why a Big Bear Hug is always well received!
Greeting a person you haven't seen for a long time
Once in a while, you happen to be lucky enough to encounter friends you haven’t seen in a while, or you might as well find yourself in a situation in which a friend returns home after a long period of living abroad. Whether is one scenario or the other, how would you react?
Friends in Colombia are part of your extended family, and as a family, expressions of love are never left aside. In both scenarios, Colombians would greet one another with a big brotherly hug lasting for quite a while.
Piece of advice: Squeezing (just enough) will show how excited you are of seeing that person again.
Greeting your professional contacts / Meeting someone for the first time
Whether is one situation or the other, the best way of reacting will be by greeting with a firm handshake. Sometimes, people might also opt for a cheek-kiss. This is specially common when meeting friends of friends.
Piece of advice: The person in front of you might be handsome, but don't rush the cheek-kiss! Some people might get offended or feel uncomfortable.
Just remember, under either of the scenarios mentioned above, even if you don’t know exactly how to react, just smile and go with the phrase: