Is hugging a normal part of your business day? It’s never been for me. Ever. I’m only a hugger with loved ones and close friends, and always keep it out of business. Yet recently I was in an office where associates of mine walked in and, as we greeted each other, I extended my hand for a handshake and they hugged me.
I was stupefied. The situation was particularly odd for a couple reasons:
- I’m new to the business and in the initial phase of establishing work relationships;
- I’ve been in meetings with these two associates before and we never hugged; and
- There was another associate in the room (male) and they did not hug him.
Now, these men (and their hugs) were not offensive or harassing. They really did just seem friendly and happy to see me. Their actions took me by surprise because it is out of the realm of their normal business acumen – as I said we’d never hugged before or established that type of protocol.
I did not but should have said something at the time that hugging makes me uncomfortable, however it was truly one of those moments where the element of surprise overrides the preferred reaction. I was caught completely off-guard.
Since that occurrence, I’ve been in meetings with these same associates and there’s not been another hug proffered. I really do not know what preempted the initial contact, but will be ready in case the scenario occurs again: I will take a step back, extend my hand and let them know I prefer shake hands to hugging.
I know there are people and businesses who encourage or participate in a “hugging friendly” environment, but I am not and this is not one of those.
When have you accounted a situation where associates took too much of a familial tone (without harassment) and how did you respond?