11 Rules for Hugging at Work + 2 more

It’s the holidays, so I’m running some “Best of” posts from the past. This is my all-time most read post. Enjoy. I had 2 more rules just for you!

Hello. My name is Tim Sackett, and I’m a hugger.   Being a hugger can make for some awkward moments – what if the other person isn’t expecting a, or doesn’t want to, hug and you’re coming in arms-wide-open!?

Fast Company has an article recently titled: To Hug Or Not To Hug At Work? by Drake Baer, that delved into this subject.  Here’s a piece from the article:

“the uncomfortable feeling you get when you realize that your concept of your relationship with someone else doesn’t match their concept. The intensity of awkwardness roughly corresponds to the magnitude of difference in relationship concepts.”

I consider myself to have a number of roles: Husband, Dad, Coach, Boss, Friend, Coworker, etc.  In each of those roles I’ve hugged and will continue to hug.  Sometimes, though rarely, I’ll find someone who isn’t a hugger.  The first time I ever met Kris Dunn face-to-face, we’ve had known each other and talked frequently by phone for a year, at the HR Tech Conference – he was coming out of a session, I recognized him, he recognized me, and I went full ‘bro-hug’ (sideways handshake, other arm hug-back slap combo) on him, and I’m pretty sure he was caught off guard – but played along.  Kris is a closet hugger.  I find Southern folks are huggers, more than Northern.  Western more than Eastern.  Canadians more than Americans.  Men feel much more comfortable hugging women than other men. Women will hug anything.

I thought it was about time we had some hugging rules for the office, so here goes:

The Hugging Rules

1. Don’t Hug those you supervise. (The caveats: You can hug a subordinate if: it’s being supportive in a non-creepy way (major family or personal loss – sideways, kind of arm around the shoulder, you care about them hug);  it’s at a wedding and you are congratulating them; it’s a hug for a professional win (promotion, giant sale, big project completion, etc.) and it’s with a group, not alone in your office with the lights off; you would feel comfortable with your spouse standing next you and watching that specific hug.)

2. Hug your external customers or clients when they initiate hugging sequence.  (The caveats: Don’t hug if: it is required to get business – that’s not hugging, that harassment. Don’t let hug last more than a second or two, or it gets creepy; Don’t mention the hug afterwards, that makes you seem creepy!)

3. Don’t Hug the office person you’re having an affair with in the office.  (no explanation needed)

4. Hug peers, not just every day. (It’s alright to hug, but you don’t need to do it everyday for people you see everyday. Save some up and make it special!)

5. When you Hug, hug for real. (Nothing worse than the ‘fake hug’!  A fake hug is worse than a non-Hug.)

6. Don’t whisper – ‘You smell good’ – when hugging someone professionally. (That’s creepy – in fact don’t whisper anything while hugging!)

7. Don’t close your eyes while hugging professionally.  (That’s weird and a bit stalkerish)

8.  It is alright to announce a Hug is coming. (Some people will appreciate a – ‘Hey! Come here I’m giving you a hug – it’s been a long time!’)

9. It’s never alright to Hug from behind.  (Creepier!)

10.  Never Hug in the restroom. (Make for awkward moment when other employees walk in and see that.)

11.  If you’re questioning yourself whether it will be alright to Hug someone professionally – that is your cue that it probably isn’t.

The New Rules:

12. Don’t pat my back when you Hug me.  It makes me feel like you’re trying to burp me. I know this somehow makes you feel like people will view this as a non-affectionate hug, but it makes me feel like you feel it’s a non-affectionate hug. Just hug, or don’t hug.

13. Don’t assume you can Hug a co-workers kids (or any kid for that manner!), but if the kid tries to Hug you, you better Hug back.  My team has their kids come in all the time. I love kids. I’ll Hug their kids. But I’ll wait for the kid or the parent to give me that cue. I usually start with a ‘Hi-Five’ and some kids will just come in for the real thing! Parents are super protective of their kids. If you just start hugging on them, that can get real creepy, real fast!

 Do you have any hugging rules for the office?

7 thoughts on “11 Rules for Hugging at Work + 2 more

  1. Pingback: The 10 Rules of Office Romances | The Tim Sackett Project

  2. I totally needed this today, maybe because I need a hug but ultimately because it made me that and that is always good for the soul.

  3. Interesting subject!
    However, this in an organization is guided by possible policy, or dominant culture. I prefer dominant culture way where a people have defined it themselves unrestricted to policy or procedure. Meaning we hug if we have the common unspoken agreement or chemistry!

    However, some formal situations have dos and don’ts as captured in your article e.g. hugging an interview panelist before or even after etc.


  4. #14 for your Hugging rules, ” While in your hugging embrace, never step forward to try and make full frontal contact” (very creepy). A coworker of mine does that!!

  5. I love this! Funny and true! I too am a hugger and I hate those environments where hugging is forbidden. Not to mention that I used to work at Build-A-Bear Workshop where hugging was a daily experience!

  6. 🙂 Happy New Year….here’s my dilemma…what do you do about hug equality? If you meet up in a group, do you hug ’em all? Group? Individually? Some, not others?

    These are the things I need to know to start 2015 off right!

  7. “Never hug in the restroom.” That is hilarious…and terrible. I laughed out loud.

    I might add “never hug your interviewer” to the list. I’ve been hugged twice by candidates upon greeting them in the lobby (both were male, that might make a difference.) It was very awkward, but the receptionist sure thought it was funny!

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