Hugs vs. Handshake in the Corporate Space: Act as you Prefer

January 15, 20168:34 am2265 views

To hug or not to hug? Many professionals ponder this question when greeting or bidding farewell to colleagues. This is one tricky and delicate contemporary issue in workplace greetings, since they occur in a typical business setting – like a networking event or group luncheon.

This question generally bothers females who at the receiving end find themselves uncomfortable to hug/kiss in the air and greet fellow colleagues. Guys have less to worry about since males generally greet each other with formal handshakes and hugs, but no kisses for sure (hilarious!).

New research from staffing firm The Creative Group suggests that hugging among co-workers is more popular. More than half (54 percent) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed said this practice is at least somewhat common in the United States, up from 30 percent five years ago.

It’s a different story when it comes to meeting clients, however: More than three-quarters (77 percent) of respondents said business hugs are rarely, if ever, appropriate in this context, up one point from 2011.

“Business hugs may be more prevalent today, but they might not be welcomed by everyone,” said Diane Domeyer, Executive Director of The Creative Group. “When greeting colleagues, consider the environment and tune into body language. Even if you’re a natural hugger, it’s best to offer a handshake when you sense a hug may make someone uncomfortable.”

Research from The Creative Group shows hugging at work is on the rise (PRNewsFoto/The Creative Group)

(PRNewsFoto/The Creative Group)

Here are three tips for greeting business contacts with grace:

  1. Master the handshake. A firm handshake is a safe bet as it’s a standard greeting in many parts of the world — and one that isn’t apt to offend.
  2. Go in the right order. If you’re meeting with a group of people, exchange pleasantries with new contacts before those you already know. Also, make a point to introduce junior-ranking employees to senior-level staff.
  3. Avert awkwardness. Not a fan of business hugs? Protect your personal space by extending your hand early when approaching colleagues to signal your preference. To all ladies out there, extend your hand as a pre-emptive gesture and this is considered nothing otherwise, but strictly professional in all cultures.

The corporate etiquette world is grey filled with minute nuances, so the key is to adapt yourself to situations and greet depending on your comfort levels established with the receptor/business contact. Make your greetings look genuine and natural at all times, so you need to seek comfort within yourself and know your limits before extending hand.

See: Personal Connection during Video Interview? Possible!

Depending on countries, hugging and kissing can seem quite normal or a strict No-No. In Europe for example, the double cheek kiss in corporate meetings and luncheons is a big No-No, whereas in some parts of the American culture, people do initiate a quick friendly hug and double cheek kiss.

This however goes unsaid, that it is reserved for someone you especially care about as a colleague, friend and you know them well enough. One should never trying aping what others do, if you are meeting someone for the first time, to hug and kiss – it looks very inappropriate and comes across as rude body language.

So stick onto couple of firm handshakes, until you get familiar to develop comfort and convenience to hug (again only if required). Else handshakes are always the safest bet.

Always respect another’s space and ask permission before you actually go ahead to embrace gently and hug. Keep those hugs, kisses and compassionate love restricted to friends.

Try not to bring in such impolite mannerisms at work, which can seem quite offending and rude, inappropriate at most times in workspaces and corporate culture, especially when you don’t know the other and lack familiarity to seek comfort in warm embrace.

Also read: Etiquette lessons for staff with colleagues with disabilities

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