Hugging at Work

I have been called a hugger. I’m not sure I agree with that. One of my colleagues, Michelle, is not a hugger, and she’ll tell you that. Once, pre-hug, she said, “I’m going to hug you now because I know you’re a hugger.” She hugs with disclaimers.

I respect non-huggers and actually, am pretty put off by the premature hug. I don’t want to hug you if I don’t know you very well. If I know you’re not a hugger (non-huggers are pretty vocal with their warnings)

I think hugging comes from how you were raised. My dad? Not a hugger. My mom? A hugger. My sisters are one of each, I think. I really think I fall somewhere in the middle.

I get a lot, and give a lot of hugs at work — it’s only not weird because it’s because mostly it’s because I haven’t seen my co-workers in months. Every return to the office is a reunion. Every goodbye is for quite awhile. If hug-lovers were greeted the way I am on every return to the office, they’d be in heaven.

This morning I attended a business networking event. As I was introduced to a stranger, I held out my hand for the expected handshake. Imagine my surprise when I was engulfed in a hug, instead. In a flash, I thought, “Does he think he knows me? That I’m someone else? Is this his gimmick? Is he a MAJOR hugger?” and, “Oh, this is SO inappropriate.” I’m definitely not a stranger hugger.

Are you a hugger? If not, how do you react to people entering your personal space with open arms?

About marijean

I'm a public relations professional, social media consultant and work-at-home-mom living and working in Charlottesville, Va. I'm Marijean Jaggers and this is my blog.
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8 Responses to Hugging at Work

  1. Sarabeth says:

    Not a hugger.

    When I initiate the hug, I mean it. They are not to be given away lightly.

    As for how I react when another wants a hug and I don’t? I give a stiff formal hug, hopefully clearly showing that I am not receptive to other hugs.

  2. Lonnie says:

    Wow, interesting topic.

    As we become an increasingly multicultural society, I think this sort of thing will become a bigger issue.

    I also believe that we all walk around with a personal space bubble that carries its own kind of presence. There is a real art to reading people and intuitively being able to “see” this bubble that surrounds other people, and wether it is okay to enter it or not.

    There are some really fun exercises one can do with a partner both to help increase your sensitivity to other people’s space boundaries and also to project firm boundaries, or intentionally “soften” them. I’ve known several people who worked in really dangerous countries, and they all say that that one of the skills necessary in such an environment is to be able to render yourself “invisible” by using body language to manipulate the boundaries of your personal space. I don’t know how one would adapt this sort of thing to an office space, but I bet it could be done.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I’m a hugger, but I try to be aware of who’s not. Also, I’m not a purely casual hugger. I don’t hug strangers or people I don’t know well — it’s for my friends and family.

  4. Mike Murphy says:

    I’m crushed. I worked with you for how long? and no hug ever?
    I think I’m gonna cry…

  5. marijean says:

    You have got to be kidding me. I’ve never hugged you? How is that possible? We’re OH so professional when we’re together. That must be it.

  6. Michelle says:

    Marijean — this cracks me up. Because my husband IS a hugger, and says that I can sometimes appear unfriendly b/c I’m NOT a hugger, I try to make a mental note of who is, and then remember to hug them. Thus, your hug with a disclaimer.

    What makes me more uncomfortable, however, are the male friends that I have who are “cheek kissers.” Thankfully, I’ve never experienced this in a professional setting, but even among friends, I find it awkward. Whenever my husband and I go out socially with other couples, I have to remind myself that “John” is going to lean forward and kiss my cheek, so that I don’t jump away and make everyone uncomfortable.

  7. marijean says:

    Ha! Ew — I don’t like the cheek kissers either!

    You just keep on with your non-hugging self. I don’t find you unfriendly at all.

  8. Marriage-101 says:

    I’m a non-hugger, I guess. My family and I are professionals at the “awkward limp-arm hug and back pat”

    Although this did remind me that I had a male client hug me and give me the cheek kiss the other day. It was slightly uncomfortable but I roll with it.

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