July 5th, 2017

Ask the Etiquette Expert: How to Handle a Hugger

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Credit: Adobe Stock Photo

Dear Jacqueline,

I’m uncomfortable in situations where some of my clients and colleagues want to hug or plant a big kiss on me when we see each other. I want to be professional, but don’t want to take the greeting past a business-like handshake. And most of all, I don’t want to offend anyone. What are the rules when it comes to hugging or kissing in the workplace?

Signed, Hug Me Not

Dear Hug Me Not,

Handshaking is the universal business greeting and should be used in all business situations. However, there are even times when handshaking can be denied. The exceptions to this rule are illness and injury.

If you are sick, or have a bodily injury to your hand, arm or shoulder, you can simply say something like, “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just getting over a cold and I’d prefer not to shake hands.” This is generally understood – and appreciated – by the other party. Speaking of illness, always carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse, pocket or desk drawer, don’t touch your face, and wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu season.

Refusing to shake someone’s hand for any other reason, however, runs the risk of insulting the other person. Now that we’ve established the rules for handshaking, let’s move on to other forms of bodily contact greetings. Read more.

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