To hug or not to hug? When is it appropriate in the business setting between co-workers and how does one know if the other person will be receptive to it? I’ve had this blog ready to post for quite some time now (and yes, I did jack this idea from a conversation held between co-workers) but decided to edit my thoughts after taking a business etiquette class conducted by Arden Clise. Why? Because as mentioned in my first blog post, I was born and raised in Indonesia where culturally the society holds a different mindset to the western world; the western world placing an emphasis on individualism while the eastern world places an emphasis on homogeny. This generally results in different levels of awareness in regards to personal boundaries for those raised in the differing cultures. I was not aware up until Ms. Clise’s class that I was conducting myself incorrectly. Nothing major of course, but surprising nonetheless.
In regards to the culture we’ve developed in the United States, people abide by general rules which differ between the workplace and their personal lives. We are freer to have good-natured physical contact with our friends and family outside of the workplace. When conducting ourselves in the work setting we enter a world of firm (but not too firm) handshakes, who to introduce to whom and which person comes first based on the level of their rank in the company, and body language – just to name a few. While I agree with much of the business etiquette taught in the course, I also disagree with one point that wasn’t covered and based on the direction the course took I didn’t bother to bring it up. Drum roll please: the simple hug.
Hugs are important because they show and symbolize care and sense of belonging. Not only is this integral to human beings as a social species, this is something that I believe is important to corporate cultures. As each of our members is special to us, so are we as employees to each other. I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that everyone become ‘hug-happy’ and run around hugging each everyone they see. That would be flat out weird. I classify myself as a hugger and a scenario like that would just plain freak me out. My simple point is that much like a warm smile, a hug conveys appreciation for you fellow co-worker. I don’t dispute the fact that hugs aren’t for everyone. One should generally already know their co-worker well enough or have the ability to sense if a hug is appropriate to both the person and situation. Just writing this I’m wondering if perhaps I should have named the title of this blog “Hugging Etiquette.” Whatever the case, hug on. What matters is that a happy employee makes for a happy member.
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