We’ve all experienced one of those awkward moments when meeting a business associate and you extend your hand, just as they move in for the hug (or vice a versa)—and then there’s this awkward, jerking-movement where one of you pull back and then each of you mimic the others’ first move.
Sound familiar? It’s a chicken-dance moment that will definitely throw both of you off guard!
To hug or not to hug –that IS the question.
Here are my thoughts on the subject.
First, it’s important to note that the way you greet someone in a business situation is often an indication of the relationship that the two of you share…
For example, have you known the person for a long time? Are you friends outside of the business arena? There’s a comfort zone that is obvious to both individuals that makes a quick hug more appropriate, even in a business setting.
And then there’s the setting. What if their boss is present when you meet with them? No matter how well you know the person, a handshake may be the better choice in this situation. The first rule of thumb of manners is “always make people feel comfortable.”
If you’re meeting with someone in the rain, opt for the handshake and take your meeting indoors. Who wants to hug someone who is wet?
In the business world, there are definitely industries where hugging is more – or less– accepted as a greeting between clients or business professionals. You will see less hugging in the legal, banking or accounting arena, whereas the more artistic industries—personal care industries like film making, restaurant, wine producing, and beauty industries – people are more likely to greet you with a hug.
Of course, there are also geographic and cultural considerations when it comes to greetings. From my personal experience, hugging is more prevalent on the west coast than the east coast of America. And in Japan they are teaching how to correctly hug in “Doing business in America” classes. Maybe it’s something we should be learning as well? Put your left hand here …
What do you think? Are you a big-time hugger? Or do you prefer to only greet people with a hand shake in a business setting? This is a great topic for conversation as we also have our own personal boundaries. Our comfort zone. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with hugging in the business world!