Are you a workplace hugger?

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After seeing Lars and the Real Girl, I gotta ask, are you a workplace hugger? Apart from the Free Hugs Campaign that has a different mission [and the public hugging is, personally I think, a great idea], is there an instance when hugging at work is taboo? Or should it be taboo? Should it not be taboo? When should it not be taboo?

Workplace hugging is different from other location hugging. The social context and expectation of professionalism differs depending on culture and country as well. With that in mind, what process, if any, do you have in place for workplace social behaviour? Does this act fall under professionalism as a catch-all phrase in your HR sponsored orientation manuals?

I asked this for a couple of reasons – from medical (example: Fibromyalgia) to psychological (even to the point of a phantom pain to the sense touch) or those who are not comfortable with close contacts. There are many reasons why not everyone is in favour of hugging and the hugger should not feel uncomfortable when the hug is not reciprocated nor welcomed.

As we become exposed to more and more complex work behavioural scenarios, it is not a bad idea to talk about this although some may think this has gone too far. My goal with this post is to have a discussion and see what you think of this whole idea of workplace hugging? So its your turn, what are your thoughts on this?

photo by cliph

4 comments to Are you a workplace hugger?

  • Thank you Sean. You’re right about the holidays (any holiday in fact) where social graces come to play more sincerely than just a regular workday hug.

  • Sean B

    I think it has a lot to do with corporate culture and setting. Todays politically correct charged workplaces have left little to no room for emotional contact (physical or otherwise). I myself am not a hugger in general, and certainly not a workplace hugger I have encountered them. It’s been my experience that the workplace hugger is usually female and not in a management or senior role within the organization. (just an observation, not a fact)

    During the normal course of business I’m not sure it belongs. However, with the holiday party season in full swing I have hugged and been hugged at these events. Obviously the formality of the office is removed and social lubricant has been added.

    Theres a great scene from The West Wing in the episode “The Kind of Day It Been”. Bradley Whitford’s character misreads body language of the character play by John Spencer thinking he wanted a hug. The awkward moment that follows is priceless. (Sorry can’t find the clip online)

    As usual when it comes to HR – err on the side of caution when entering a gray zone.

  • Thanks Vasta. I too have been a hugger at work too. And thanks for the link – I like the “emotional Heimlich” reference.

  • I’m a hugger in all parts of my life, including work. People get used to it in the end, if you’re doing it with good thoughts and intentions. Actually, my business card actually lists my job title as “Hugger Extraordinaire.”

    Anyhoo, I’m all about the hugging. I even wrote a post about it recently: http://eloquation.com/2007/11/02/on-hugging/