Workplace relationships can be weird as it is and when you add fears of office gossip and sexual harassment accusations, hugging , especially between a man and a woman in the office, can be downright uncomfortable. Furthermore, as Ruth Graham of The Grindstone notes, “Ladies, we cannot rule the world until we stop hugging at work.”
Yes, when you have met someone in the past or have met them a few times, a regular old handshake can seem cold. Being a hug-bug can cause co-workers an unnecessary amount of anxiety all the way from the moment a person sees you coming, during the time they have to decide whether or not to offer their hand, all the way during the gorilla hug, and afterwards when they are contemplating what just happened. Then, when they have to meet you the next time, they’re forced to go through the entire traumatic experience all over again.
This is not to say that there isn’t a place for hugging in the workplace. For example, no one expects a handshake when someone has died. If you are trying to console a co-worker, you don’t generally do so by extending a hand. However, when greeting people in the office, there isn’t really a reason that we need to keep trying to hug people who oftentimes, are uncomfortable, don’t want a co-worker all in their space like that, and generally do not like hugging people they work with and are not related to.
The only situation at work in which a person should feel 100% okay with hugging is if everyone at work and anyone who works with your company, has agreed that they are comfortable with it. Unless you send out a survey to everyone, you will never have this 100% guarantee, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and save the hugging for children, close friends, and anyone else you may know personally.
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