My name is Aly, and I’m a hugger. My primary love language is touch and hugging is how I constructively meet that need within my family and friends.
As technology allows us to live more and more in virtual relationships without ever needing a physical presence, I think hugging is becoming a lost art. We are more connected than ever and yet we are lonelier than ever. And that’s having some dire consequences on many young people: stress, anxiety, depression, lower confidence and more.
Did you know that scientific studies are showing some people have the same reaction in their brains from a hug by getting a LIKE on their FB status?? As an Extrovert, I totally understand the want and need for external validation, but really?? I’d rather have a hug. A real hug.
I understand some of you may already be creeped right out and are milliseconds from hitting your delete button. Breath, stay with me. Breath. I understand that hugging is not comfortable for everyone and that it must be approached with respect to others and some awareness.
Hugging in a workplace or professional setting needs some boundaries.
- Always ask permission and respect the answer. I find when I ask, I have never gotten a no but I can tell with body language even before I ask how the other person my be feeling about the hug.
- Only give a hug when you sincerely mean it. No fake hugs, please. It’s worse than a manipulative compliment or trying to shake hands with the ‘dead fish’.
- Consider the authority balance. Going around and hugging your superiors is not cool, especially if you’re using it as a way to get ahead (see #2). Hugging your direct reports might be very supportive but it comes down to whether you have permission (see #1) and your relationship with each person is close enough to do so.
- Hugs do not replace handshakes. There is a time and a place for a sincere hug and that boundary needs to be respected. If in doubt, offer a firm, palm to palm handshake with eye contact. Many times I have defaulted to this and had the other person laugh and say, ‘Aw come on, I don’t get a hug?!”
- Don’t play favorites. If you are in a group of colleagues please don’t doll out your best hugs to just a few and walk away. Either make it even or don’t at all. Maybe there’s a closet hugger in the group now feeling alienated and left out.
- Hugging can be flirting. If you have any question about a physical attraction to anyone in your office, do not be hugging! This is a slippery slope you do not want to fall down. Hugging can also be perceived as harassment so please abide by rule #1 and remember you always have the right to say NO.
Perhaps because I’m a ‘very out there hugger,’ I don’t tend to attract people who don’t want to hug. I’ve also made my hugs part of my trademark and so people know me for that and want my hugs.