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To Hug or Not to Hug?

With #MeToo accusations popping up regularly, the etiquette around hugging at work is unclear. To one, a congratulatory hug may be a sign of warmth; to another, it may signify a power play. What to do?


In many industries, hugging between clients or colleagues is fairly common. In fact, in long-term relationships between, say, a sales rep and a client, a handshake instead of a hug could be interpreted as coldness.


Still, some organizations steer clear of the workplace hug, especially since a federal court ruled that hugging might constitute creating a hostile work environment. Women in particular may wish to stay away from hugging in the workplace to appear more professional. Another reason to avoid friendly embrace: Research shows that not everyone wants or needs to feel affection at work.


A few pointers from experts:

  • Supervisors should never hug anyone they manage.
  • Everyone should avoid giving a hug if unsure how the other individual would react.
  • Hugs should always be brief.
  • Non-huggers should feel free to set boundaries with their more affectionate counterparts.

The good news is that a firm handshake can be effective at creating a bond between people.


From The Wall Street Journal