To hug or not to hug… that is the question. Actually, only cold heartless bastards don’t hug. I’ll go even further… if you work in HR and/or care deeply about HR and don’t hug… you should seek a career change. HR hugs, in my opinion, are a good thing. Handshakes are cold. Hugs are a way of showing that you truly care about the other person. Both parties are willing to break the invisible laws that govern personal space and commit to one another. It’s okay to hug. I promise.
So, with that behind us… let’s delve into how you hug and, more importantly, what that tells us about your workplace.
The types of hugs demystified:
- A-Frame Hug: You know what this looks like. Standing two feet from one another and only the top halves actually touching. In most parts of the country, this is a safe hugging style. Huggers who use this style suffer from commitment issues.
- Full Frontal Hug: If you feel pelvis, this is full frontal. Don’t worry; you won’t get pregnant through your clothes just like you won’t catch AIDS from a toilet seat. Huggers who use this style suffer from sexual tension issues.
- Side On Hug: With this style, one person hugs the side of another person (think T-bone for hugging). This style of hug is all about power and control. In some ways, you always have a clear winner and loser with this hug. Huggers who use this style suffer from aggression issues.
Photo Opportunity Hug: Think side by side hugging. The hugger that uses this particular style doesn’t have to make eye contact with the other hugger. Usually, this person has just lost a shit-ton of weight and they are looking for someone to take photos of them. You know the type… they tag themselves in every single photo in Facebook… even the ones that aren’t great. Sure they lost 30 pounds but that doesn’t give them carte blanche to be a douche about it. Huggers who use this style suffer from newly minted vanity issues.
- Cuddle Hug: Get a room already. Individuals who engage with this style of hugging are NOT agents of change. Think: if they still hug like they did in 8th grade, then they are secretly opposed to change. Huggers who use this style suffer from mommy/daddy issues.
- Man Hug: The centaur of hugs… half handshake, half hug and mostly male. The good thing about this hugging style is that it is innovative. The downside of this hugging style is that it depends too much on regionalism and/or personal experience. How many times have we seen these interactions fail? In truth, this hug can cause more confusion than it’s worth. Huggers who use this style suffer from authority issues.
- Lift and Spin Hug: This is an out of control hugging style for out of control people. No one wins with this style in the workplace. I’ll go further, if you have workers engaging in this hug at work – they’re prolly doin’ it. The bell can’t be unrung people. Huggers that use this style suffer from PDA issues.
- Surprise Hug: One person is minding their own business and some jackass comes up from behind and nearly hugs the life out of them. Not cool dude. Not cool at all. The victim of this hug is terrified and what does that say about the aggressor… you don’t want to look me in the eyes when we hug. You don’t like my face! What? Huggers who use this style suffer from narcissistic issues.
- Arm’s Length Hug: This hugging style is for older people and/or folks who just like arms. I know, seems weird but some folks just like the way arms feel. No judgment. Huggers who use this style suffer from social anxiety issues.
- Group Hug: Let’s face it… this hugging style rarely makes you feel better. I’m not sure who to blame. I’d rather pair up and switch partners… get some good hugs in rather than having a huge unfulfilling group hug. Group hugs suck. Huggers who use this style have messiah issues.
- Bear Hug: This hugger has issues. This person might be on steroids. Prolly a safety rules abuser. A walking sexual harassment claim waiting for opportunity… dunno. Huggers who use this style have anger management issues.
- Double Bear Hug: This is where both parties engage in bear hugging. That’s not a pretty image is it? I know you’re thinking it, may as well say it out loud… d!ck measuring contest for huggers. Please call security when you see this hug happening. Someone is about to get hurt. Huggers who use this style have so much going on… anger management on top of diminished capacity issues (read: IQ less that 100). Poor little creatures.
Hopefully, you’ve found your hugging style listed above. Of course, different situations might call for different styles of hugging, but each hugger has a default style that they always fall back on.
Now you may ask, I love me some huggin but what the hell do I do with my arms?
- Over Arm Strategy: this is used by dominant huggers.
- Under Arm Strategy: this is used by submissive huggers.
- Cross Arm Strategy: this is used by confused and/or novice huggers.
Okay, I’m hugging… and I’ve figured out my damn arms… now what… What do I do with my ten fingers? What do I do during the hugging experience?
- The Pat: for congratulatory reasons… think, thataboy.
- The Rub: for consolatory reasons… think, I’m so sorry.
- The Head Hold: rarely use this. But if you must, only in really dramatic situations.
As we grew up, our parents would tell us… “you are what you eat.” Can’t say that I would argue with that… albeit that makes me a huge bag of M&M’s, but I digress. As a HR professional, you are how you hug. If you didn’t know, now you know.
William is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He’s written over 200 HR articles, spoken at over 150 HR & recruiting conferences and he’s conducted over 1000 HR podcasts. William prides himself on being easy to find on The Internet, Google him and connect with him via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email.
William serves on the Board of Advisors for Talentegy, Wellocity, GlitchPath, Talent Ninja, Universum Americas, Engagedly, Echovate, VibeCatch, Continu, Hyphen, Bevy, Happie, RolePoint, Causecast, Work4Labs, Talent Tech Labs, and SmartRecruiters. He was previously an advisor to PeopleMatter (sold to Snagajob Q2 2016), Good.Co (sold to StepStone Q1 2016), Smarterer (sold to Pluralsight Q4 2014) and a board member of Chequed (merged to create OutMatch Q3 2015).
William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.