Critical workplace issues: Hugging

Last week at work we had a spirited and valuable conversation about the single most important topic in the workplace – hugging.

Are you a hugger?

My world seems deeply divided on this issue.  Some people are huggers – hugging everyone from the UPS delivery person to colleagues at lunch.  It’s part of the culture, it’s how we greet people, and it’s expected.


Some are not huggers.  Don’t-touch-me kind of huggers.  Thrusting out a hand in an effort to dissuade the hug.

When I was a little girl, according to my family, perfect strangers would come up to me and say, “what a cute little girl.” My response?  Don’t look at me.  Don’t touch me.  

I started dissuasion early.

I am still seeking a happy place in between the extremes. I tell job seekers to pay attention to the culture and colleagues, especially those in leadership roles. Awareness, social queues, and depth of relationship all play into how we greet each other.

If I were to start over, I would suggest a different greeting – something in between a hug and a handshake.  Handshakes are so formal, hugs too familiar.  Perhaps a name tag with an identifying color – hugger, not a hugger.  I think that would be better than don’t touch me.

Happy Monday.

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