February 9, 2011
Are hugs appropriate in the workplace?
Depends on where -- and with whom -- you work. Work at a yoga studio, and you're more likely to experience warm and fuzzy displays of affection during the workday than people who work at, say, a bank.
[Photo by Julie McLeod]
Of course, if you've been a teller at the same bank branch for 10 years and have cultivated close friendships with co-workers and customers, hugging may be as integral a part of your workday as your morning coffee.
A survey released this week by staffing firm The Creative Group put the workplace affection question to 500 marketing and advertising executives at small and midsize firms throughout the country. Of those polled, 70 percent said they felt that hugging co-workers isn't appropriate workplace behavior, and 76 percent said you'd be hard press to catch them giving a client or other business contact a big juicy bear hug.
Not sure whether it's kosher to give a co-worker or customer an affectionate squeeze? The Creative Group offers these guidelines:
Err on the side of formality. When in doubt, shake hands. Throw in a friendly smile and eye contact, and you'll come off as professional yet welcoming.
Take the lead. You can easily avoid the awkward "Should we or shouldn't we hug?" dance that sometimes plagues professional acquaintances who haven't seen each other in a while by simply extending your hand for a friendly shake.
In a group setting, greet those less familiar to you first. Walking into a meeting and hugging your close colleagues before introducing yourself to those you haven't met or scarcely know can lead to awkwardness. Instead, first shake hands with strangers and acquaintances before embracing your long-time colleagues.
How about you? What's your take on hugging in the workplace? Are you an advocate or a detractor? What's the norm at your place of employ?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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