A hug may be a comforting and appreciative sign of affection in the correct setting. But if misused or on someone who doesn’t want to be hugged, a hug can cause significant pain.
“Many emotions can be expressed via the hug, such as happiness, comfort, or compassion,” says Expert of Etiquette Consulting. However, “it is important to understand the culture, the context, and the relationship before attempting to initiate a hug,” even if hugs are generally accepted as a greeting for individuals who know each other well.
According to etiquette experts, remembering a few simple principles might help you avoid an uncomfortable situation or even an offense. Six situations are discussed in this article in which a hug is inappropriate (at least without prior permission).
Skip hugs in the workplace.
Physical touch in the workplace can further aggravate already fraught power dynamics. That’s why, in most cases, Hirst says you shouldn’t even embrace your coworkers.
It is not common practice to give or receive hugs in the workplace because of its “professional” status. This would apply to formal and informal business gatherings. When meeting someone for the first time, as for a job interview, it’s best to refrain from giving a hug.
A hug may be more appropriate under some conditions, but you should still be cautious.
According to the authors, “a hug would depend on the relationship between the two coworkers when meeting at conferences, seminars, or other professional events.” If two long-time coworkers haven’t seen one other in a while, it’s not uncommon for them to greet each other with a warm embrace.
That goes for other people’s workplaces, too.
It’s only appropriate for coworkers to embrace each other if everyone involved is completely comfortable doing so. Everyone in your employ is subject to this regulation.
You may have a long-standing friendship with your hairdresser, but you’re likely to have a different level of trust with your plumber, mechanic, or doctor. Keeping things on a professional and objective level requires some distance, so hugs are out.
Always give a handshake to err on the side of formality and politeness.
Don’t hug if someone is sick or injured.
When you hug someone, you invade their personal space, which may not be appreciated if they feel ill or hurt. Under no circumstances can you expect to be hugged.
Keep your distance to read the other person’s cues for a hug if they appear sick, wear a mask, or sport a cast or brace.
Regardless of someone’s outward symptoms, you should constantly keep an ear out for their nonverbal indications. Pay attention to the person’s body language to determine if they are receptive to a hug.
If a hug might be offensive to someone’s religion or culture, don’t give it.
If you need to become more familiar with the person’s cultural or religious norms, you should avoid hugging them.
When deciding on the best way to meet someone, it’s helpful to know that “some cultures do not hug.”This would be true even if people of many faiths believed the same thing. A lot of discomforts may be avoided if you know in advance.
Some signals may indicate that you should seek permission before touching someone. “Keep in mind that “in these cases, it is better to presume there will not be a hug” if the other person is wearing religious gear, a head covering, or visibly modest clothing.
Don’t try to hug if someone’s arms are full.
Those who enjoy being hugged may not appreciate one at the wrong time. According to Expert, you shouldn’t embrace someone if they already have their arms full.
As soon as the groceries, parcels, or baggage have been delivered to their proper locations, the embracing may begin.
Don’t assume all friends or family would like a hug.
Hugs are a frequent greeting between loved ones and are often greeted warmly.
It depends on the connection and the circumstances; “some people do not appreciate the invasion of personal space and prefer not to hug.”
Many hugs will be exchanged at a wedding because it is a joyous occasion. Some mourners find solace in sharing a hug during a funeral, while others would rather grieve alone.
Smith warns against assuming that kids will want to embrace you just because you’re around; this is especially true if they don’t know you or don’t have a strong memory of you. Don’t force young people to embrace you if they don’t want to.
Just introduce yourself as your uncle’s older sister or “Aunt Tilly.” It’s lovely to see you again. Please let me know if you want to offer me a hug.