Are Hugs Replacing the Handshake?

When we read this story on AOL Jobs, we silently chuckled and then nodded in agreement. How many times have you seen colleagues shake off shaking hands and decide to hug instead? Awkward, yes. Poignant? Perhaps. Inappropriate most of the time? You bet.

Miriam Salpeter advises in the piece:


“The safest bet is to avoid hugging in the workplace. You don’t want to face sexual harassment charges for hugs you might consider innocent expressions of affection, but that come across as too touch-y feel-y to your colleagues or employees.”

Per the piece, there are a few tips to keep in mind if you and/or a colleague are in a hugging state of mind…

1. Corporate culture. If your culture is a suit and tie kind of place, kick it old school and opt for a handshake. If your colleagues try to embrace you with a hug, you can always tell them to talk to the hand. Half-kidding. After all, you’ll want to be cordial but you can extend your arm for a firm handshake instead.

2. The type of hug itself. Per the piece, all hugs aren’t created equally. And feel free to raise your hand if you agree — a hug may be a little too long and deemed inappropriate versus the bro tap (you know, when guys hug but manage to pat each other on the shoulders or upper back). Salpeter writes in the piece, “If you’re the hugging aggressor, make sure you aren’t going overboard. If you hug at all, avoid any hug that could be labeled aggressive or passionate; both of these hugs definitely cross the line and are inappropriate in the workplace.”

3. Avoid hugging subordinates. If you’re the boss, this could be really awkward if you try to hug someone who reports to you. Also, keep the company’s sexual harassment policy in mind. Plus, Salpeter points out as the boss, people may not feel like it’s their place to come right out and ask you to stop hugging them. She writes, “Keep in mind: even a “side hug” or shoulder pat can seem a little touch-y feel-y to some people.”

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