Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is It OK to Hug at Work?

I got into a conversation recently about how "chummy" people should be with one another at work. I've written about this before, but it seems to be an issue that comes up again and again.

One person I know expressed the opinion that she didn't mind it when others hugged her at work -- even if she barely knew them. She didn't think it was offensive, and was merely a way to say "hello."

Another said that she hated it when people wanted more than a handshake -- she finds hugging awkward and feels that hugs have no place in the workplace.

A man weighed in on the subject, noting that he's OK with hugging women -- but he doesn't want to hug a man (including his own brother, who he says drives him crazy.)

TIME asked the question in 2009: "Are Hugs the New Handshakes?" citing President Obama's tendency to hug staffers and the confusion about when to hug -- or not -- in the workplace.

The tough economic times, I think, have led to all of us wanting a hug whenever we can get it. We long for the comfort of knowing our co-workers are bonded with us in a special way -- that we're all in this tough situation together. But is it OK to hug now -- but not when times get better?

At the same time, I wouldn't suggest hugging an interviewer -- a solid handshake it enough. But should you hug a hiring manager in your enthusiasm when you get the job? Would it kill your career before it even started?

I'm interested in hearing what others have to say. Is hugging OK in the workplace? Or is it a harassment lawsuit waiting to happen?

Let me know what you think....


Lorelie said...

Great question. Hugging seems to occur in my office when it's a special occasion, or if it's someone who I don't get to see very often. There's something about connecting with someone in person and in those moments, a handshake just seems to small of a welcome.

Anita said...

Thanks for your perspective and for adding your thoughts!

Patricia Robb said...

I'm not comfortable with too much hugging at work because it just doesn't suit the environment -- you know professional, business like. But we have hugged on occasion at work and it felt OK at the time. One time a colleague got a lucrative contract and was so excited about it that when she announced it to us we each ended up giving her a hug to celebrate. Special holidays is another time people may want to hug. When gifts are given the recipient will ikely want to hug you to thank you for the gift.
I find it a bit awkward if it is someone from the opposite sex who wants a hug. Then I might prefer to just shake their hand and give them a pat on the back.

Anita said...

Thanks for your comments. It really sounds like your workplace is like many others -- just trying to deal with it on a case-by-case basis.

Harold said...

For the moment, in France, people don't seem ready to hug at work. And I believe that's for the best.
Hugging is for relatives and friends, and has, in my opinion, nothing to do with work relationships.
Maybe it's because I want to keep some distance between me and coworkers, but I truly believe it's better not to cross too much lines in a work environment.

Anita said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As you can see from the other posters, a lot of people aren't comfortable with workplace hugs.