The first step to meeting new people is saying hello.

This is also the most dangerous step!

There are so many ways to greet and be greeted and, if you’re awkward and terrified like me, these are fraught with peril.

A simple, “Hello, nice to meet you,” can appear cold and frigid. People often want more. They want bodily contact. Skin against skin, the warmth of human flesh! Already! And we’ve only just met!

The quickest and least committal way of appeasing this desire for fleshy contact is the handshake. Pressing of palms! This comes across as business-like and professional, but can also be read as cold and distant. This leads us to the dreaded full-frontal…

That’s right, hugging. Pressing the front of your body against the front of another person’s body. A strangers’ secondary sex organs rubbing against yours, through your respective clothing. A person you have, by definition, just met. How do you guard against this awkward hugging scenario?

First, there’s the defense. Hold something in your left arm that is large and important enough not to be put down, such as a large purse, infant human child, or pricey cocktail. That way, when someone comes in for a hug, you can turn your body away to protect whatever object or tiny dog is in your left hand. Sorry! My arms are full! Can’t hug! Best just shake my right hand, then.

They always say “the best defense is a good offence” so here’s where you take the most risk. Upon meeting someone for the first time, when they come in for the hug, grab them by the cheeks and kiss them firmly on the mouth.

The ball is in your court! And after seeing this, chances are, nobody else will get close enough to make the mistake of attempting to hug you again.

Good luck meeting new people! With these helpful hints, you’ll be making new friends in no time!