do you hug at work?

January 26, 2011

in culture

i spent the last two days with a client. when i arrived and when i left, each member of their corporate benefits department hugged me. so did a few of their local HR representatives and their other health partners.

we’re a team. we work together and we look out for one another. that’s why we hug.

do you hug at work?


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Roche January 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm

We hug, but we’re a pretty touchy-feely bunch. I went to school at South Carolina…hugging down there is an art form.

And it’s so funny…young people…and by that I mean people who are 25 or younger, hug a lot. My 17-year-old son’s friends have hugfests all the time. The friends even hug us…it’s all so happy.

I like it. And I like people who know how to really hug. Not the lean in. I say, hug or not. But do it like you mean it.


fran January 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm

frank, no “man hugs” and no air kisses. two rules to live by.

my best working relationships and happiest times at work all involve hugging. if you can be emotionally available enough for a REAL hug, you can be emotionally available to work through sh*t.



Richard Sherman January 26, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Much to my dismay, I am not currently in a place that hugs. At all. It would be biz-flippin’-zar to see it happen here. But several years back, in the insane growth days of a funky marketing company I was part of, it was a more regular thing. And I miss it. I think it’s a good thing to explore and think about as part of an organization’s interior life.

And I agree with the rules – hug like you mean it.



fran January 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm

dear deprived.

i feel your pain. i’ve also worked places where hugging was considered shocking. not to mention laughing and having fun. i wasn’t long for either.

i like what you say about an organization’s interior life. what was your lunch crew’s perspective on the topic?



Richard Sherman January 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I was actually at lunch with some business friends (a staffing agency that I have known and loved for years and years) and upon arriving, all of them hugged me. It was perfectly natural and the right thing. And we talked about it, and that’s when we agreed that it is a good sign of a healthy, warm organization.

When you sent me this question, I thought about it today and imagined going to lunch with folks from my current place and even just the idea of bringing up the question was enough to send my hackles a’climbing. I can’t imagine it.

There is always plenty of talk about about organizational culture, and I think how people interrelate to each other at work, and what level of intimacy exists, of course, to an appropriate extent, is a vital piece to it. It’s important to recognize it, share it during recruiting and on-boarding, and nurture it, to whatever extent is possible.

Richard “Less Deprived Now Having Shared Thoughts with Y’all”


fran January 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

glad to hear you’re feeling less deprived. 😉

i agree that hugs, or the ability to comfortably hug, say something about an org’s culture. and we haven’t even spoken about their overall health benefits.



David Ferrabee January 28, 2011 at 7:09 am

You’ve worked over here in the UK. Can you imagine if someone had to hug everyone at the start and end of the day? Just thinking about it makes me smile.
I grew up in French-Canada and France and so I am partial to kissing people when I see them. It often freaks out English people… and Americans.
So it is cultural I guess. But a good two cheek kiss is still the easiest for me — even the Brits are getting into it now. But, like the rules of ‘man hugs’, you have to do it with care. I tend to grab hold of my victim and direct them… the risk is always the misdirected ‘kissed you on the lips – now what do we do’.
But hey, it’s more revealing than shaking hands.


fran January 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

it’s cultural and personal, isn’t it? there were people in england who’d readily hug me. there are good friends here who freak out if i invade their space. realistically, if you have a few folks to hug and laugh with at work, you’re lucky.



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