me, talking about hugging at work (Wall St. Journal) and job interviews (Marketplace)

I’m quoted in this Wall St. Journal piece, talking about hugging at work. My advice: “Huggers feel they’re really good at judging when someone wants a hug, but based on what the nonhuggers are saying, they’re wrong about that.”

And this weekend, I was on public radio’s Marketplace, talking about job interviews. My segment starts at 6:11.

{ 275 comments… read them below }

    1. Future Analyst*

      Agreed! Alison, you sound very different from what I expected, but I would totally listen to your podcast, were you so inclined. :)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Every time I post a podcast or radio interview here, people say they’re surprised by my voice. I’m dying to hear how y’all hear me in your heads (much sterner, I’ve gathered).

        1. NotTheSecretary*

          Having not listened to this yet and based entirely on that one picture you once posted of you being carried off from a protest (or some such) by a police officer, I’ve always imagined you sound friendly but also very much no-nonsense. Like Carla on Scrubs, maybe.

        2. Arduino*

          Your voice is much higher pitched than I expected.

          I think it’s an unconscious bias that deeper voice = authority. Since you are an authority in my head I thought deeper voice.

        3. hayling*

          Eh, I think your voice is a little softer and more high-pitched than I’d expect, but it’s also often to hear writers speak. Many writers who have a strong written “voice” don’t speak the same way (e.g. my other advice column fave, Jolie Kerr*).

          *Perhaps you two could collaborate on a piece on workplace messes?

        4. Margali*

          Yes, you have a lovely speaking voice, that is higher in pitch than I expect it to be. I think I expect you to sound more like Meryl Streep (though NOT like her in her role as the boss in The Devil Wears Prada, in case you were worried!)

        5. NoMoreMrFixit*

          You have what I call a big sister voice. Gentle and smooth with no harsh tones to it, very trusting. Exactly the sort of voice I’d expect to kindly offer advice to people. You definitely need to give us more spoken offerings!

        6. Elle*

          I imagined your voice to be similar to Rashida Jones, especially when she’s playing Ann on Parks & Rec and Ann is in full Stern Nurse mode. Which, haha, I see someone else cited Carla on Scrubs as another friendly but no-nonsense character.

        7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Your pitch was lower than I’d have expected, and much gentler than I think you sound in my head. You are always kind and straightforward, but I think I read the straightforwardness as more “matter of fact,” while your tone was much warmer and zen than that.

          Regardless, you were great! I listened and was like, “Yeah! Alison is killing it!!!”

          1. Future Analyst*

            Agreed on the “gentler” sound. I want to hear Alison say “What? No.” in real life, I always imagine that as less gentle than she sounds. :)

        8. Tempest*

          I know I listened to the webinars with your ebook, and yes, I’d imagined you a lot sterner. :)

    2. Anon and alone*

      I agree with the other commenters here, you have a lovely voice. It’s very musical.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Interestingly, media coverage never seems to drive a noticeable increase in traffic. I used to always assume that it would, but even big coverage (like the profile in NYMag that’s in the “you may also like” links or the profile in Guardian a few months ago) doesn’t seem to make really significant changes to overall traffic levels! Small bumps, but not big ones.

      That said, it probably contributes to an overall increase over time. And it certainly does other things — like I had a bunch of literary agents reach out after the NYMag piece.

      1. Mike C.*

        That’s facinting. I would have totally though you’d get a noticeable bump then a percentage of those folks continue reading. Interesting how organic the whole thing is.

        1. ZTwo*

          It’s definitely interesting that overall it doesn’t do much, since I would expect it to depend on whether or not there was a direct link (the WaPo piece doesn’t include one for example) or whether it’s something people would read online vs. in person vs. hear. It’s a lot easier to click a like to AAM than to google it (especially on mobile) or recall the name to look up later. So I’m little surprise direct links have no surge associated with them, but it makes sense they’d grow over time.

      2. De Minimis*

        I find that interesting too!
        I would think that other online articles would lead to increased readership since it’s easy to click a link and start reading here. I could see how something like being on radio might not increase readership since it would require some level of work for a listener to look up AAM, though not if they listened online!

        I wonder if it’s because Marketplace listeners might trend older and be less likely to be interested in workplace issues? I volunteered at an NPR station a few years ago and heard a lot of inside info about which programs are popular with certain demographics.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          When there’s an online link to AAM, I can see how much traffic it drives — and it’s not that it’s nothing, just that it’s not super significant (usually under 1,000 total). Now, it’s possible that some of those people stay and become regular readers, but it’s not high enough to see an immediate big jump in overall daily/weekly traffic that could be clearly linked to it.

          When there’s isn’t an online link, I can’t track it at all — but same thing, whatever traffic it drives isn’t enough to see an immediate big jump in overall daily/weekly traffic.

          1. LBK*

            Is there anything that does seem to drive a notable increase in traffic? I know there were a couple stories that caused a huge influx after they went viral (like the dress code petition intern) but did that actually cause a permanent increase in readership, or was it exclusive to those particular letters?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              There were two posts that went viral last summer, and those did seem to cause a permanent increase in readership. The other thing that reliably does it: January. Every January traffic goes up significantly and stays up. It’s strange.

                1. LBK*

                  Must be…I can’t think of any other reason that pattern would occur.

                  Thanks for the insight!

        2. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

          Ha, didn’t realize I was a “trend older”. :D

          I feel older every day, it’s true. hahaha.

          1. hayling*

            This would be my dream! Why don’t you pitch it to Panoply or one of the other networks?

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Yes, this! Panoply would be perfect for this.

              That said, if you want to go non-professional, you can still get a fairly decent-sounding recording with just Audacity and a Mac’s built-in mic. There are even some smartphone apps that record pretty decent .mp3 files. At the end of the day, whether you’re using SoundCloud, PodBean, Libsyn, or whatever else to host your podcast, it’s ultimately just an RSS feed of an audio stream that can be downloaded as an .mp3.

              If you’re nervous about it, it doesn’t have to start with fancy theme music and sponsors. Once you’re certain you have the audience (and I think you do), you could add that stuff in later.

          2. LQ*

            I’m so excited to hear this! I would love this podcast. Every time you’re on one I get excited!

          3. SanguineAspect*

            YES! Do it! I think you just need your very own Roz (sorry, been rewatching Frasier).

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            OMG, I would love short podcast pieces in the style of Grammar Girl.

  1. JamToday*

    Oh hey hugging in the workplace! I used to work for a company where everyone was really huggy and it made me incredibly uncomfortable. I’m fine with hugging family and sometimes friends, but my coworkers were neither, although I’m sure some of them were very nice people.

    So anyway: my department had an overnight retreat. I correctly gauged that there would be lots of hugging. I asked — then told — people to please not hug me. I wasn’t mean about it, but I also wasn’t kidding about it. Want to know what happened? I’ll tell you!

    The head of my department put a bounty on me. He offered cash to the first person in my department to hug me — demonstrably against my will. It was a secret, he made the offer before I arrived. Ain’t that some ish. He’s now a SVP and I am no longer working for that company.

    1. NCKat*

      I am a non-hugger and cannot imagine a more horrifying experience. I’m so glad you’re out of that company!

    2. animaniactoo*

      I’d have told you it was out there if I was your co-worker. That is screwed up. You do not touch people who do not want to be touched.

      1. JamToday*

        Yeah how crummy is that, to know that *all* of my coworkers thought this was hilarious and were all in on it? Suffice it to say, things went downhill rapidly (they were already going downhill for a host of reasons), but knowing that I could not trust one single person I worked with to do the decent thing was really a kick in the teeth.

      2. Bigglesworth*

        I would have too. I am a hugger, but I do not initiate hugs due to the fact that so many people find them uncomfortable. I’m not always the best just of who will mind and who won’t, so I don’t for anyone.

      3. K.*

        Me too. (Although there would have been one on my head too since I’m not a hugger either.) I’d have gone right to you like “Girl …”

    3. SouthernLadybug*

      Somehow I think that SVP is a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. Glad you got out.

      1. Observer*

        I was thinking the same thing. I hope they wind up with something explosive. That’s just beyond horrifying.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Seriously. I know I often admonish folks for throwing out legalese, but if someone says “here’s my boundary re: physical contact” and you put a “bounty” on forcibly hugging them, you deserve to get in trouble for assault.

        I cannot adequately emphasize the extent to which this was not ok—seriously, a law dean got fired for unwanted hugging (among other things) last year!

      3. JamToday*

        LOL nope, he was sleeping with the head of HR at the time so there was no hope of ever seeing justice of any kind. Suffice it to say, I’m still haunted by memories of that company. Its a tough thing to shake off, even years later.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      Oh my God, that’s horrifying! Confession: I am a hugger, but in my personal life. I do not bring my hugging self to work! (One exception: I used to work in higher ed, and there was a student crying in my office. I asked if she could use a hug, and gave one when she said it would help) DON’T HUG FOLKS AT WORK!

      1. Bigglesworth*

        I work in higher ed too and that’s my one caveat. If someone is crying in my office, I’ll ask them if they want a hug. Other than that, hugs aren’t happening at work!

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        I’m in tech, and I was in a 1:1 with our PR lady and she was having a rough week. She told me some of what she was dealing with and I asked “do you need a work-appropriate hug?” She thanked me.

        But jiminy christmas, I’d not hug at work first without an explicit ask and disclaimer like that.

    5. tink*

      I am a hugger and the idea of forcibly hugging someone or being forcibly hugged by someone I don’t want to hug me makes my stomach turn. And putting a bounty on you like it’s funny to touch you against your will is just… horrifying.

    6. Chriama*

      When I was in high school, one of my friends really hated being touched or hugged. And I thought it was so funny to hug her and see her back away with resigned discomfort. I think I remember feeling a mix of annoyance/exasperation and disbelief. Like, I couldn’t believe anyone really *hated* hugs. I could accept indifference (which would mean she should just put up with it) but hatred was impossible and therefore her expressed wishes irrational and not necessary to listen to.
      Anyway, I grew a little older and realized it was disrespectful to ignore her wishes and so I stopped. I understand the logic that would lead the VP to act this way, and I’m not entirely surprised that his logical reasoning stopped at the emotional age of 16. Disappointed, but not surprised.

    7. nonegiven*

      I’m pretty sure if someone did that to me, they’d get an unwanted poke in a sensitive spot. “Oh, so sorry, don’t ever startle me like that, again.”

    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Many of my coworkers who are huggers are also kind of hippie-ish… not all, but 98%. So I came up with a hippie explanation (delivered in a very calm yet concerned voice), courtesy of my acupuncturist: “Full body contact, like hugging, involves a massive sharing and transfer of energy [NB: in the “aura”/Xi sense] between two parties. I need to retain my energy reserve, today.”

      Shockingly effective, despite the fact that it sounds insane.

      1. Thlayli*

        Haha I love it! I need to retain my energy reserve lol.

        It goes against the entire point of hugging to force it on someone. This article and JamTodays comment is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever read. I just can’t get my head around someone forcing a hug on someone. Weirdness. JamToday I’m so sorry that happened to you that is straight up bullying.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        It sounds reasonable to me. I’m having a hard time lately, but a lot of my friends are festival folk.

        “Nice to meet you… [handshake extended]”
        “OH IM A HUGGER”
        “[arm extended to block] I’m going through some stuff right now and can’t hug strange men.”

        They’re always a little shocked and taken aback at my directness, but that’s their problem, not mine. My problems are much bigger.

        1. Geode*

          Man, I hate that phrase. I try to say, well, I’m not! But those people always seem to think their wishes override my comfort. I’ve gotten adept at blocking most of them though.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          OMG now I want to say this to everyone. “I’m going through some stuff right now and can’t ___ strange (wo)men.”

  2. Megan M.*

    That hugging article made my shoulders go up around my ears! I DO NOT WANT TO BE HUGGED AT WORK. Totally agree with your quotes, Allison.

      1. Purest Green*

        I was mostly OK until I read this part:

        Mr. Doucet wrapped his arms around the man. “He wanted to let go, but I wouldn’t,” he says. A security guard eventually came over to intervene, according to Mr. Doucet.

          1. esra*

            I can’t imagine joyfully telling an anecdote that boils down to: They didn’t want to be touched, but I just kept on touching them!

            1. sometimeswhy*

              I have people joyfully say to my face, “I know you hate to be hugged but I’m going to do it anyway!!”

              Mostly I’ve gotten adept at keeping furniture between me and other people but I have had people walk directly into my outstretched “no” hand and look very confused, sometimes affronted, when it didn’t budge. They were (and, yes, I was too considering the cockeyed sense of right and wrong in some places I’ve worked) lucky they just got the heel of my hand to their sternum at a force dictated by their own speed. Usually it doesn’t happen more than once per person.

              Do not touch me.

              1. nonegiven*

                A fist just a little lower, there is a nerve plexus just below the sternum that can drop them to their knees.

                1. sometimeswhy*

                  I’m aware.

                  I’d rather embarrass them than go up on assault charges–charges that would be further complicated by my degree of training in throwing punches like that–however justified I might be. If I can make them look stupid without moving, why would I do anything else?

              2. SouthernLadybug*

                Wait a minute – usually? Who the heck wouldn’t get the message the first time?!

          2. Observer*


            How can anyone in their right mind think that this improves relationships?!

            When I read the original line from him that “no one loses their jobs if they don’t hug” I sarcastically thought “how Nice!” I guess from a guy who needs to be peeled off of a peer by security, that’s big deal. But seriously!?!?

        1. Antilles*

          If you keep reading, there’s also this nugget: “Mr. Yellen, the CEO, says a Belfor worker once hugged him so hard he broke three of his ribs, sending him to the hospital. The injury hasn’t slowed Mr. Yellen, who estimates he gives hundreds of hugs a week. ”
          Um, what? No, hospitalizing someone during a routine greeting is Not Okay.

          1. iseeshiny*

            I am enjoying imagining the rib cracking to be deliberate revenge from a person who didn’t want a hug. Justicccccccccce

        2. chomps*

          It’s not a lack of self-awareness. It’s a lack of respect for boundaries. And it’s awful.

          1. Student*

            It’s a form of “socially tolerated” dominance posturing, like the hand-crushing handshake. They know what they’re doing. They know it makes you uncomfortable, and for them that is the point. It’s like aunties who hug and pinch little children that don’t want to be touched – it’s about making hte kid obey and submit to them, not about actual affection.

            People who hug because they enjoy hugging would be mortified to find their hugging was actually making someone uncomfortable, because if you enjoy hugging itself, that is exactly the opposite of the point of it.

    1. Spoonie*

      I had to quit reading and come back to it. I’m fine with hugging to a point. Generally, I don’t initiate the hug unless it’s a family member or a close friend (and even that’s got exceptions). I could feel myself grimacing throughout the majority of this article. I think I’m going to go look at pictures of puppies for a few minutes…

      1. excel_fangrrrl*

        i couldn’t finish it. my shoulders can go no higher. i can recoil from my screen no further. does it get better or is the entire article an ever increasingly horrifying list of physical violations by superiors in the workplace???

    2. KatRaz*

      Yes, my shoulders are currently in physical pain at the full body clench I experienced while reading this article. No no no no no. And I’m someone that craves physical contact. But from a very select pool of people only: some close friends (not all), significant other, some family (not all).

      That pool 110% excludes: colleagues, bosses, clients, strangers, friends of friends, that one friend who holds hugs too long and taps my shoulder when making a point, the friend who hugs even longer (I’ve forcibly ended those hugs before), some aunts and cousins and other random relatives (sorry fam, but you can no longer force me to hug them like you did when I was a child.)

    3. Annie Moose*

      I still haven’t stopped wincing in horror. Now excuse me while I step outside the office and scream at the top of my lungs.

  3. Hazel Asperg*

    I have PTSD. At a previous job a person of the same general physique as my attacker tried to give me a hug. I ducked, lunged away and screamed. In front of a group of my managers and coworkers. For whom I then had to come up with a quick and understandable excuse as to why I acted so socially inappropriately, but – crucially – without revealing some of the darkest and most personal and stressful parts of my life.

    (Don’t hug strangers.)

    I’m so glad I don’t work at that company discussed in the article.

    1. JamToday*

      Yikes. That person is lucky you didn’t lay them out flat. I abhor the presumptive hug (see my own story above.) At a *minimum*, its bad manners. At its maximum it is, as you note, a physical invasion that can trigger past memories of trauma. Presumptive huggers really have no consideration for other people.

    2. aebhel*


      I’m no longer likely to react like that to an unexpected hug, but I will freeze up and my mind goes blank. It’s low-level dissociation, and it’s really not pleasant.

      Hugs are only nice for people who want them.

      1. Hazel Asperg*

        He was a co-worker. I think he thought he was being friendly as we’d known each other for a few years and had a friendly working relationship. One of those ‘everyone likes hugs!’ people, perhaps.

    3. Statler von Waldorf*

      Trust me when I say it’s worse when you actually do lay them out. I also have PTSD, and a determined hugger tried to sneak up behind me to give me the hug he was sure I needed. I just reacted, and hit his throat with my elbow pretty hard. He ended up requiring surgery and was off for several weeks.

      It got really, really awkward really, really fast. I ended up leaving that job over that incident, as I ended up being treated like a psychopath by my co-workers and management. The company did pay out a very generous severance package (they were terrified of a lawsuit over this), so it wasn’t a total cluster****, but it was defiantly not a fun experience.

      1. patricia*

        Wow, this reminds me of the bird-phobia letter from not too long ago. (That letter has really stayed with me, as I have so much sympathy for all involved. It really was a no-win situation.) I’m so sorry yours ended poorly. I hope the bird-phobic person has a better outcome.

        Also, people just need to keep their hands to themselves, like I tell my elementary aged children.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m so sorry you went through this. If someone came up behind me to give me a hug and then tried to do it, my self-defense training would be set off, and I, too, would throw an elbow. It’s frustrating that your coworkers cannot empathize with or understand why it’s not ok to spook someone and violate their personal physical boundaries.

        1. Casuan*

          The self-defence comment is so me.
          And definitely do not violate another’s personal boundaries.

      3. Thlayli*

        At a Christmas party one of the older guys tried to hug me (or slowdance with me? It was on the dance floor and there was a lot of drink taken). I went tae kwon do on him and did a double block of his lower arms and double knife hand strike to his collarbone (not full force the dude was in his 50s so I wasn’t actually trying to hurt him). In that situation I think he was just drunk; he never acted inappropriately before or since. I can’t even imagine working in a place where unwanted hugs are a part of the day. Crazy.

  4. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    Hugs from people I’m not close to bother me. I was watching a documentary this weekend and the two guys the documentary followed kept hugging people. The documentary was about minimalism and how they were living this life unencumbered by stuff. They wrote this book and were traveling all over promoting it. Any time a person came to talk to them, the authors would say “I’m a hugger” and then wrap their arms around the person, always without waiting for permission. It bothered me so much I shut the documentary off. My husband, who is much more accepting of hugs, was also bugged by it. As I watched the film I missed their entire message of minimalism and could only focus on the forced hugging.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      FWIW, I’ve watched that documentary, and you didn’t miss much. (Sorry, OT I know, but the “hugging a stranger” thing bugs me too!)

    2. Koko*

      I absolutely *hate* “I’m a hugger,” as an excuse because can you imagine that in literally ANY other scenario where you’re touching another person, for ANY reason?

      “I’m a masseuse!” *proceeds to rub your shoulders unsolicited*

      “I’m blind!” *proceeds to rub your face unsolicited*

      “I’m cold!” *proceeds to squish their body against yours unsolicited*

      “I’m a rapist!” *…*

    3. Mike C.*

      That’s just creepy. After hearing about this, and that dude who was hunting down Richard Simmons, why is it that folks feel entitled to the personal space of others who simply want to be left alone?

      1. NotTheSecretary*

        That hunting for Richard Simmons podcast was among the ones suggested to me by my podcast app. It skeeves me out so much. Leave the poor man alone!

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I listened to that podcast, but started feeling gross about it about halfway through. I regret finishing it instead of just googling to find out how it ended. Definitely gave me a creepy vibe!

        2. Brandy*

          I feel the same way seeing this play out in the media. The man wants his alone time. Let him be,

    4. chomps*

      As a non-hugger, I don’t understand why “I’m a hugger” is an acceptable excuse to hug people who don’t want hugs, but “I’m not a hugger” ISN’T an acceptable excuse to not hug someone who wants a hug.

      1. JamToday*

        Imaging using the “I’m not a hugger” excuse to forcibly break up other people’s hugs? “If I don’t like hugging, then *nobody* will be allowed to hug even if they want to!”

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. But also, folks should always ask before assuming they can hug someone, and if there’s a power inequality and the hugger is in the more powerful position, then that person needs to stop hugging/asking-to-hug people. Ugh, everytime I read stories like this it makes me feel #RapeCulture.

    5. Kris*

      My husband and I watched this documentary, too, and he couldn’t get past the presumptuous “I’m a hugger” attitude of the two guys. My husband hates hugging in any scenario other than with close family members, and this aspect of the documentary really freaked him out.

    6. KR*

      Omg that bugged me so much too. That and the fact that it seems like they read fight club and decided they had discovered something amazing that they needed to tell everyone??? I like my cluttered home tyvm. My things aren’t possessing me. Go hug yoself.

  5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    I propose the phenomenon Alison points out be dubbed the Dunning-Hügger effect.

  6. The Tin Man*

    I am so excited to listen to the Marketplace spot! That and AAM are two of my weekday dailies and it makes my heart smile to see them have a “crossover episode”.

  7. Clever Name*

    I’m still laughing at your quote in WSJ. I’m not sure I qualify as a hugger or non-hugger- I’ve hugged coworkers who were leaving, and I recently did the “side” hug to congratulate a coworker on her pregnancy (I’m also a woman). I do remember a particular coworker who left, and I would have given him a brief goodbye hug, but I got a very very “do not hug me” vibe, so I did not hug him. :)

  8. NotTheSecretary*


    Don’t hug me.

    I’m very small and I look very young (despite my attempts to look otherwise). The number of people who have attempted to give me hugs, pick me up (!!??), or pet my head baffles me. I’m an adult human being, I am not a child and I am not an animal.

    It doesn’t ever happen in my current workplace which is very, very respectful of everyone while still being very relaxed. You’d never think that one thing I’d love about my job is that no one picks me up.

    1. Willow*

      Oh God, the picking up! I’m 200 pounds. You have to squeeze really hard to hang onto me. It HURTS, okay? Just … no!

      1. NotTheSecretary*

        I hate the ones who try to, like, pop your back or something? It hurts. I hate it. Put me down.

    2. PepperVL*

      I’m sure this isn’t what you intended to imply by saying you aren’t a child, but… It isn’t okay to hug a child who doesn’t want to either. They’re people too and if they’re old enough to express a desire regarding hugs or other personal space issues, it should be respected.

      I think that’s where a lot of this culture comes from, though. When children are forced to hug people they don’t want to hug, they learn that’s what is done. They grow up to not see anything wrong with forcing hugs (or worse) on people.

      1. NotTheSecretary*

        Oh, I agree with you on that. I have pretty constant fights with family members on whether or not my daughter “has to” hug them (she definitely doesn’t). It’s become A Thing that NotTheSecretary’s daughter isn’t required to “be polite”, as they like to put it.

        She *is* required to politely greet family members and to say goodbye but I don’t allow anyone to force physical contact.

        What I meant by “I’m not a child” is that people often pick up small children when they hug them. That’s fun for kids but I’m an adult and I want to stay on the ground, kwim?

  9. Old Admin*

    Urgh. Ecchhhhhh…..
    Please don’t hug me against my will. Please ask me first. If you pounce, I will push you away.

    I’ve been forced by extremely icky “family members” (including an abuser) to endure all sorts of hugs well into adult life, and it was a trigger for a very long time. *ack ack ack*
    These days, I physically push these people away from my body, and it feels real good.

    When I was really unhappy at work twice, I had two different situations:
    1. A very interfering manager tried to force a hug on me, and I nearly hit her, managed to stop her by scampering away, babbling explanations. Ugh.
    2. At a different time, a colleague respectfully asked me if I *needed* a hug, and did not advance on me. I felt way better about that. Still did not want it at work, but it was way more compassionate, and I appreciated that.

    And happily, I now have people I *like* to hug. Friends. :-)

    1. Sadie Catie*

      This comment makes me feel so much better! I am a reforming hugger and always feel awkward weeks after I put the ask out there. I can never tell if people think I’m a big weirdo. Better to ask and be declined than to hug without permission. Phew!

  10. Lissa*

    I will never understand why people are so invested in getting nonhuggers to hug, or convinced everyone secretly wants hugs, etc. Whyyyy? People take it so weirdly when someone is anti-hug, like it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. Do people really get that much out of hugging their casual friends, coworkers etc.?

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m mostly just not getting it intellectually. I understand that it can be awkward to go for a hug and then be stopped mid-air or something but oh my, then you can aks before pouncing or just live through the three seconds of awkwardness that takes. Do people base their entire sense of self-worth on their hug quota or what?

      I personally don’t ever have the urge to hug someone because I’m not a touchy person naturally but I don’t have any physical or mental discomfort around hugs, either, I just think they’re silly, so I’d object to hugs at work on that ground. I must say that I’ve never come across this apparently widespread phenomenon before, though.

    2. Chriama*

      I commented above but I was one of those huggers in high school. I think it’s a combination of thinking that hugs represent something good, in and of themselves, and a lack of perspective or empathy. They represent intimacy, a connection between human beings, affection and comfort. So people rejecting a hug are rejecting kindness, which means they’re either hurting and in need of a hug, irrational and in need of a hug, or evil puppy-eating monsters who don’t deserve a hug but you’ll be kind and give them one anyway to show you accept them. And because all that hug-reasoning is in the subconscious mind, people with low emotional intelligence don’t question it and recognize that showing you care about someone happens by relating to them the way *they* want, not how *you* want. Hugs are not the emotional equivalent of oxygen.

      1. anna green*

        Really love all your comments on this! As a total non-hugger it helps me to see where someone else might be coming from.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Agreed, and Chriama’s analysis is super sophisticated and fascinating.

    3. MicroManagered*

      In addition to what others have said, I think it’s not uncommon for someone to double down on a particular behavior when they feel embarrassed. So like if you shush someone they may talk louder, or if you try to reject a hug someone may insist on the hug.

      1. StevieIsWondering*

        Very astute observation.

        For me, the gender of the hugger plays a huge part. I have initiated hugs and have been the recipient of hugs with other women at work in specific situations (death of a colleague or post-election), but it is waayyyy awkward to think about with someone of the opposite gender. I have never seen two men hugging at work. It’s like, why are you trying to hug me when you wouldn’t hug Fergus in the same situation?

  11. Anonmethinks*

    My new grandboss is a friendly-shoulder-toucher-see-we’re-friends-we’re-cool type. It feels just as uncomfortable to me as a hug.

    Just…don’t touch people without invitation.

    1. SarahKay*

      Yup. I don’t mind a professional handshake, but that’s all.

      If someone pats me on the shoulder or similar, I usually wait till they stop then ‘brush the touch off’ – like you’d brush off dust – so the sensation of them touching me is replaced. I do make an effort to do it discreetly and not be obvious about it, since usually whoever it was didn’t mean it to bother me, but still – just don’t!

    2. kavm*

      Ick… a (male) coworker ( who is much older than me) recently touched my shoulder and I got so uncomfortable. It’s the first time it’s ever happened to me though so I really didn’t know what to do.

      I am very much against touching coworkers in any way.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah. I mean…if you are grabbing my arm to yank me out of the path of an oncoming vehicle? Or catching me as I trip and fall on the stairs? Sure, there is not time to ask, we’ll sort it out later.

        If it’s anything less emergency and less needed than those, asking first would be awesome, thanks. (You can always ask by gesture, but then you have to be totally okay with being left standing there with your arms open for a hug while I shake my head.)

        1. GG*

          Kinda unrelated, but one thing you wrote touches (no pun intended) on an issue I have with another kind of uninvited touching…

          “I trip and fall on the stairs?” Okay, if I’m actually falling, and you have the reflexes to help me not fall, yeah, that would be great. But I absolutely hate it when someone bumps into me, and then grabs hold of me to “steady me”. Like both their hands grabbing me by my upper arms. It’s like, “Dude, I wasn’t falling. You’re the one who seems to have stability issues. Don’t touch me!”

    3. Life is Good*

      I agree. At my old dysfunctional workplace, the SVP of the corporation would hug literally every time she came into your office. I felt so trapped because no one would say anything to her. People groused about it all the time under their breath, though. And, she wasn’t really a very nice lady anyway. I think she was using her hugs to show she was in charge. Yuk!

    4. Annie Moose*

      I flinch so hard when people touch my shoulder–dunno why, it’s just a thing. I know I’ve really startled people by doing it, too! Buuut I figure it serves them right for touching me without my permission.

  12. animaniactoo*

    I’m a hugger in my personal life (mostly), but not in my business life in general. I met a rep for a new licensor for the first time a few weeks ago and she’s a hugger for greeting and it felt a little odd.

    On the other hand, I’m currently sending daily hugs by texts to a co-worker whose mom is in the hospital hanging on by a thread. I’d have stopped after the first couple if she hadn’t texted back to say that she appreciates the hugs. And my boss and I exchange hugs at the end of every year right before one or the other of us is out for the rest of the year as a “happy holidays” thing.

    1. nonegiven*

      Text hugs are way different than in person hugs. I can text hugs if someone is sad. I don’t want to hug anyone but close family.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      I am also a social hugger, but at work I avoid hugging coworkers. Usually I can redirect to into a high-five or fist bump, and when I can’t, that’s okay (it’s usually when a coworker is moving on, for example, and hugging everyone goodbye). I hug the kids and teens if they offer, which is frequently. I’m conscious of consent and agency issues, though, so I don’t force hugs on anyone regardless of age.

      A banker hugged me at the of our first meeting, once! It was a nice hug, but really awkward in a professional sense. I wasn’t even a client; I was just doing library outreach and trying to set up a presentation to my patrons.

  13. Tau*

    I am thoroughly convinced most of the people interviewed in the article are from Mars because this is so alien to my work experience. *boggles*

    1. Junior Dev*

      Right? I wonder how many of the huggers are relatively high in their workplace’s power structure and not acknowledging that people might not want a hug, but feel they can’t say no. It all reminds me of an emotionally abusive CEO I once worked with who would pretend to be your buddy, and you’d better play along or he’d passive aggressively punish you or fire you.

      1. fposte*

        Did you see the bit in the WSJ article about the CEO hugger who had to be peeled off somebody by security?

        1. animaniactoo*

          I know! And he tells it on himself! Like it’s some oddity quirk to just be “that’s who I am, ha ha!”. I would not be waiting for security if he was hugging me. I don’t care how unprofessional he thought me…

          1. Turtle Candle*

            That was the part that was the most amazingly WTF to me, that he was describing as a charming foible a situation where he had to be stopped from touching someone by a security guard.

            If that strikes you as a funny anecdote rather that a serious wake up call, I think you may be beyond help.

            1. Annie Moose*

              It was even crazier because the guy explicitly was like, “I’m sick, so I’m avoiding close contact with people.” It’s like fractal bizarreness.


  14. Nan*

    Gah!! No touch!!!! I hug my dog and my husband. Occasionally the cats. As I’ve said before, if I’m not sleeping with you, have spawned you, or you have four legs and fur, no touch!

    I actually snapped at one of my direct reports once. I told her several times I didn’t like to be touched, and one time she did it one time too many and I snapped at her. I shouldn’t have, but it just kind of popped out. I did apologize for snapping at her, but she didn’t apologize for touching me.

    1. Loose Seal*

      I have to do a PSA here about hugging dogs. Humans think dogs like being hugged but, to the dog, it’s the same “punishment” position they are out in by another dog higher in their pack. See, when a puppy is getting too rambunctious, an older dog will press lightly on their shoulders to get them in line. So when you put your arms around your dog’s neck, he’s wondering what he just did wrong.

      You can see this if you have someone film your dog when you come in. Your dog will be happy, tail-wagging, joyful. But the instant your arms go around his neck, watch what happens to his tail (it will stop wagging and start to droop) and his head (he will start to lower his head — as much as he can with you in the way). I had to film my husband hugging our dog before he would believe me that the dog didn’t like it. The video evidence of our dog’s distress made him stop doing it.

      Cats, well. Cats have ways of making their displeasure known.

      1. Brandy*

        my dog Carl loves a hug. I don’t force hugs, im not a hugger. But throw your arms wide and stand back and he comes in for the hug. Kept short, but he does love it.

        1. Farrah Sahara*

          Can I just say that I love your dog’s name is Carl? What a great handle for a furry boy :)

          1. Brandy*

            Thank you. Its actually Carlito but we call him everything including Carl. He choose it himself. I was saying names outloud going down a list (hes named after Carlito Colon, the wrestler, all my animals have been and are) and said Carlito (I was in the C’s) and he woofed, I said you like Carlito “woof”, Carlito it is, “woof”. Hes an affectionate, loving border collie.

      2. kavm*

        The “research” on this is all based on photos that one guy (who is not an animal psychologist) looked at, and isn’t peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal. Just like humans, animals have their own preferences for behavior like this – I’m sure Nan can tell whether he animals like to be hugged or not.

        1. fposte*

          It was Stanley Coren, who cheerfully admits he was basing his opinion on photo selection and that it’s not hard research, so I agree with that. But he’s a psychology prof who specializes in animals–that seems about as “animal psychologist” as you can get.

      3. Purest Green*

        Cats for sure let you know. Two of mine are not huggers and I don’t even try anymore. A few instances of scratched up arms was enough. But one of my cats “asks” for hugs sometimes by pushing his body against me then pawing at my arm. It’s more of a cuddle than anything I suppose, but still, he loves being embraced like that (he also wubs nose kisses =^.^=). So it depends on the cat.

        1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

          My cat is a definite introvert! He doesn’t want to be touched unless he’s controlling the touch. I can’t pick him up and put him in my lap to pet him. However, he will come sit in my lap (or curl up next to me on the bed or couch so his body is literally pressed against mine) but the moment I try to touch him he’ll move. He doesn’t like people acknowledging his presence and will hide from your view if you try to talk to him, but he’ll follow you from room to room because he likes the sound of people but doesn’t like the interaction. And if there are too many people over and he can’t hang out in his usual spots? He takes days to recharge and hibernate before he can be around people again.

          1. Matilda Jefferies (formerly JMegan)*

            Previous Cat was like this. She loved to be touched, but only on her terms, tyvm!

            I recently picked up a cat at my friends’ house, and the cat gave me a hug. One paw on each of my shoulders, and he snuggled in as close as he could get. When I went to put him down a minute or so later, he actually tightened his grip – “no way, lady, you’re not done hugging me yet!”

            Which is fine, as long as it’s from a cat (and as long as you have a lint brush handy.) But from a person? No thanks, especially a person at work.

          2. HereKittyKitty*

            Aw, that was my cat who passed away last summer at the ripe old age of 19. He enjoyed affection, but it was definitely on his terms.

            My new cat actually follows me around and meows when I get home from work until I sit on the couch and let him come up on my lap to make biscuits and cuddle. The second I sit or lie down anywhere, he’s on me. He is the number one cuddle cat and I love it.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          My cat isn’t so much into hugs; her deal is trying to merge physically with whatever part of me is closest. She gets comfortable and then leans/burrows against me as hard as she possibly can. Personally, I like it way more than being sat upon!

          1. Purest Green*

            Haha! I do like the burrowing thing vs. them sitting on my full bladder (without fail, every. time.).

      4. Koko*

        And unless like me you have a little dog. When I hug her my arms I picked her up and my arms are around her entire torso, rather than her standing and my arms press down on her shoulders. She likes being picked up (and dances to ask for it) and then I just squeeze her close to hug her and she rewards me by trying to put her tongue inside my mouth or nose (yuck!).

      5. Amber Rose*

        Cats don’t like hugs or kisses but will eventually figure out that you intend them as an expression of affection and thereafter may tolerate them. This takes a lot longer for dogs though, if it happens at all. Cats don’t have pack mentality so they pick up our nuances a little quicker. Anyways people tend not to hug cats as much, since they are basically made of fuzz and razor blades. :D

      6. Nan*

        I don’t hug strange dogs, but mine comes up, sticks his head under my arms and crawls his top half into my lap for a hug. While wagging his tail. And jumps up and leans in for a hug when we get home. If you don’t catch and hug him, he looks sad.

        But yeah, I’ve seen the study and articles. I think it’s a case of Know Thy Dog.

        1. iseeshiny*

          Yes this! We had two lab/retriever mixes when I was a kid, brother and sister, and we always used to joke that the boy thought we were all dogs together, and the girl thought we were all humans. So the boy would respond very well to “pack hierarchy” dog-language-type stuff, whereas the girl seemed to relate like she understood human and behaved accordingly. She understood a lot of english words and facial expressions and nuance. They were good doggos, both of them.

      7. nonegiven*

        I’ve never hugged a dog around the neck. I’ve only hugged big dogs that are sitting right beside me, then its around the side and mainly because the dog is leaning against me.

        1. nonegiven*

          Come to think of it, I’ve had dogs come up and stick their noses between me and my elbow and put themselves in a hug.

      8. all aboard the anon train*

        This really does depend on the dog. I’ve had dogs that don’t like hugs and others that love it, complete with wagging tails when they’re hugged around the neck or the side or whatever. It’s not a one experience fits all type of thing.

        My current Newfie LOVES getting hugged, to the point that his tail wags so furiously any items nearby are going to get knocked over. If two people are hugging, he worms his way in between them to be part of it.

      1. esra*

        Has anyone ever reacted well to being told to “calm down” ever? It’s such a bear-poke.

      2. Amber Rose*

        Wow, that article made me mad. The tone of it was so condescending, and the last line basically told the guy to shut up and let people touch him against his will.

        If someone asks you not to touch them, you don’t touch them, and everyone moves on. This is something we should be learning in kindergarten.

      3. Astor*

        The whole thing pisses me off so much. Based on what I’ve seen/read of the incident, I have agreed with this article’s discussion of the power play on both of their parts. I’ve side eye Hogan’s commentary about her poking and pushing him. And I do think that his inability to handle it is an important skill to judge a politician on. I also think it’s important to recognize the socialization we receive that about showing emotion, touching people, and the way that these standards are different for men and women.

        But I am so grossed out by how much I’m hearing that since he “overreacted” therefore it must be true that it was okay for her to touch him.

  15. JeanB*

    I don’t like to be hugged by anyone except small children, I don’t like high fives, and I can’t really do handshakes due to hand pain. I basically just wave at people.

    1. Brandy*

      I hate high fives. Im very uncoordinated and miss the slap a lot. It can look like Nicole Ritchie.

      1. EA*

        Someone taught me once – if you look at the other person’s elbow while you’re high-fiving, it makes it much harder to miss. I’m not sure how this work, but it does seem to.

        1. someone else*

          Or you hit the other person in the face because you aren’t watching your hand. I think the success of this trick really varies by person.

    2. Grapey*

      I feel the opposite way about the demographics of hug givers – if they’re a small child, 95% of the time their hug is coerced by an adult. I hated being forced to give older relatives a hug when I was a kid, and as an adult I hate hearing other adults forcing their kids to hug someone.

      I usually gauge the kid’s reaction and offer a fist bump or wave instead.

      1. HereKittyKitty*

        I don’t like being hugged by small children because they are often inexplicably sticky.

        1. dawbs*

          You know, that’s one of the reasons I DON”T tell my kid to hug others (that and I try not to coerce. And sensory stuff. and really, really, REALLY working on the ‘your body, your choices’ thing)

          She’s not gross (well…I work full time with kids and the public, my perception of gross may be off–she’s not excessively gross, for a kid), but she has an annoying lip-licking habit related to sensory issues, so she has a 1/4″ ring of ‘moist and possibly sticky” around her mouth. For some reason, when she hugs other people, her hair, which has been hanging just fine off of her head will somehow FLING ITSELF into sticky/her mouth and will be quickly followed by either me having to get sticky combed out of her hair or her making gagging noises because real or imaginary, she thinks there are hairs in her mouth.

          It’s reason enough that I put MY hair up before I hug her, let alone everyone else :P

      2. Sandy*

        A customer once told me to “just grab” her child when the child went into a no-customer zone. I already had my hand out for the child to grasp at her own free will and was momentarily gripped by panic. Grabbing??? A child??? Whom I didn’t even know??? And that was said by her mother??? Thankfully the child just eyed me, took my hand and then we calmly went back to the mother. No harm done. Just a “shouldn’t we get back to your mother?” and an offered hand. No need for anything more.

      3. Caity*

        Kids super vary on this, and I think some can even tell when an adult doesn’t like hugs. I am not a hugger or even really a toucher, but I work with kids and do often have to touch them (I’ll physically move their feet if they need help with a position, for instance, or set a hand on the shoulder of a kid who is off task while continuing to address the class, or I’ll hold hands with a kid who needs comfort or pat their back; this makes my work quite different than most we’ve discussed here today!). But I think since I don’t initiate much contact without a real need for it, the kids feel able to decide how much they want to hug (or sit on me) on their own, without feeling pressured. Often they’ll rush over to me and then hesitate, like “oh I don’t remember if this is an adult I hug…” and I will either accept a hug they initiate or I’ll greet them without touching. Even particular kids will be more physical some days than others. I don’t mind if they want to hug/cuddle/hold hands, but it’s nothing I’d purposely cause. (Which also goes well with general good practice for dealing with the children of others!)

      4. JeanB*

        I actually almost mentioned in my post that I only hug children that want to hug me, like my nieces and nephews, and my friends’ kids. I am totally with you on the enforced hug thing.

  16. NW Mossy*

    My new grandboss straight-up said “I’m a hugger!” as he was already in flight to hug me. Thankfully I was aware of his pro-hugging stance and could comport myself accordingly, but it was one of those “this warning is really too late to be of any practical use to anti-huggers” scenarios.

    1. Antilles*

      I always wonder why people say I’m a hugger. Announcing it ahead of time does not make it acceptable.
      “Hey man, I’m a puncher! Oh, sorry about your black eye, I figured you’d know to duck!”

    2. Gene*

      “My knee comes up to crotch level when someone comes in to hug me! I’m sorry, I guess I’m just a kneeer.”

  17. Annie Mouse*

    I’m a mixture of the two when it comes to hugs at work. I’ve had some hugs from people I come across at work that I will back away from or hold a hand in front of me as a defence against. I’ve had some hugs I’m comfortable receiving, from the lady I’ve just helped off the floor, the family member who’s fighting back fear for their loved one and people like that.
    I had a fabulous hug one day off a child we had taken to hospital who glared at my partner from her mum’s arms and then reached out to me for a hug, and then straight back to mum.
    And I’ve had the hugs I’ve needed, generally from coworkers, where they’ve helped us keep ourselves together or for comfort as we’ve fallen apart.
    There are some coworkers I wouldn’t want a hug off, and others who, when we meet we greet each other with a hug.
    But I’d never hug someone who hadn’t strongly indicated they also wanted the hug. And the majority of coworkers are greeted with a smile instead.

  18. Delta Delta*

    I come from a long line of non-huggers. Once my mom picked me up at the airport and hugged me. I said, “what’s this about?” she said, “I don’t know, I think that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?” Then we both laughed because even though we were both very happy to see one another, neither of us wanted a hug but we thought we should.

  19. LiveAndLetDie*

    What always drives me batty about it is that people will come at you for a hug crowing “I’m a hugger” as if it absolves them of having to get consent from you as the huggee. And then if you say, “I’m not,” or back away, you’re somehow the bad guy in the situation, and not the person who was trying to get all up in your space.

    I enjoy hugs from people I know well, but ONLY people I know well. For coworkers and folks I don’t really know in general, hugging is nooooot in my general wheelhouse of “things that I find appropriate.”

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I’ve never been a hugger. I remember telling my husband on our first date that I was not a hugger and hated PDA’s of any kind. He thought he was being cute and said “well if you’re with me, better get used to it.” I still remember his face when I told him “No, YOU need to get used to it if you want to see me again.” Since we’ve been married for 14 years it’s safe to say he’s adjusted his thinking. His family is one of those hug hello, hug goodbye kind of families and I remember the first few family events we went to following behind him. He’d hug the relative and then say, “Anon today prefers handshakes, ok?” and then angle his body so he was slightly in the way so there was no way I was getting a forced hug. Funny enough, once I started insisting on handshakes a few other married into the family people started doing it too. We also don’t force our kids to do the hugs and kisses either…which drives my MIL crazy…but oh well.

      1. Matilda Jefferies (formerly JMegan)*

        Your husband sounds like a keeper. Thanks for sharing the story of a hugger supporting a non-hugger like that!

    2. Talvi*

      I enjoy hugs from people I know well, but ONLY people I know well.

      Very much this. I can count the number of people I’m comfortable getting hugs from and have fingers left over…

    3. Chriama*

      Right??? Like if someone came up to you and said “I’m a lover” and then started making out with you. Just because you state *your* preferences doesn’t mean you’ve received the other person’s consent.

  20. Amber Rose*

    No hugs. Noooo hugs. People tend to think I like hugs because I’m quiet and agreeable and smile a lot or something. But I don’t like to be touched, even by family. My husband and my cat are the only two exception to the rule. Unless you are small, soft, and purr, I do not want to hug you.

    And speaking on behalf of the small, soft, purry one who bites, he doesn’t want very many hugs either. Hugs are limited to right when I get home, right before bed, and any time I need to be doing something else urgently.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Sometimes. But mostly i’m assuming that the general you is not my husband, but may possibly be a cat. ;)

  21. chomps*

    From the WSJ article:
    “Mr. Doucet sometimes meets resistance from outsiders, too. At a business conference a few years ago, the CEO met a local government official who was greeting people by touching elbows, due to a cold. Undeterred, Mr. Doucet wrapped his arms around the man.

    “He wanted to let go, but I wouldn’t,” he says. A security guard eventually came over to intervene, according to Mr. Doucet.”

    OMG OMG OMG OMG. WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? Holy crap. I dislike hugs in the vast majority of situations and this “I can tell you don’t like this, but I’m going to do this anyway” is horrible. Huggers need to respect physical boundaries.

    1. seejay*

      I swear I would shriek in someone’s ear if they did that to me and didn’t let go. Everyone would think I was being murdered or something. If you don’t let me go, I’m going to make it so damn uncomfortable for *EVERYONE* that they’ll all be staring. That’s how pissed off I’ll be about it. :|

      And I don’t mind hugs. But I do mind being pushed into something against my will and not being allowed out of it.

      1. chomps*

        I need to work on being more assertive in these situations. It’s easier to just go along with it, but I need to start reasserting myself. Otherwise I just get angry and go home and stew.

      2. Thlayli*

        I would go for the headbutt, or a knee to the groin depending on height. If I felt particularly safe in that location I might give a warning first.

  22. Linda Brown*

    I’m more of a hugger than I used to be but early in my career, I had just finished a big presentation and was engrossed in a follow-up conversation when my boss walked by and gave me a big pat on the back, as it had gone very well.
    I almost hit the roof with my startle response as I hadn’t noticed his approach. He never touched me again at work, although now we are no longer co-workers and hug when we see each other. I only hug people at work that I haven’t seen in a while (years at least) as I am back for a second round at my current job.

  23. Captain Confused*

    I don’t enjoy hugs at all, and having to endure them at work sounds like a special kind of torture. Just yuck all over that. I will never understand how someone being “a hugger” gets to trump another’s discomfort about being hugged. The non-hugger’s preference should be the guide EVERY. TIME. That it isn’t is truly baffling to me. It’s not a hardship on a hugger to shake hands (or heck, just speak a greeting?) instead of hugging, but it IS a hardship to ask someone who hates it to endure a hug. And as other commenters have stated, it can actually be a trigger, which you would have no way of knowing in advance – so why risk it? Color me confused….also annoyed by hugs.

  24. Museum Educator*

    There was a social media campaign a few years ago to support museum folks called “Hug A Museum Worker Day.” I don’t know how much it actually crossed over from social media to the real world, but I remember having a visceral reaction thinking about strangers possibly touching me! (Not to mention what could happen if the overly familiar old guy who shows up on my tours occasionally got wind of it… shudder.) I hug family and certain friends and that’s about it.

    Thankfully there were enough retweets saying things like “Thanks for the appreciation but DON’T HUG ME” that they changed it to something else the next year.

  25. kc89*

    Most of the time hugs don’t really bother me but I’m dying at this mental image and how horrified most of this website would be-
    “You go in for like a regular hug and then you just spin in a circle,”

    1. Turtle Candle*

      That one cracked me up. I mean, I guess in theory it’s like at the end of a Disney movie where the prince sweeps the princess off her feet and whirls her around, but… my coworkers are about the same size as me, and we’re none of us weight lifters capable of effortlessly twirling each other, so it would be less “whirling” than “awkwardly shuffling around in a circle.”

      Either that or that elementary school playground game where you hold hands and spin around as fast as you can until you get dizzy or lose your grip and fall down.

      1. Teclatrans*

        Oh! I am a very tall woman, and it hadn’t occurred to me that someone would be lifted up and twirled. I just imagined the weird circular shuffle, which seemed odd but at least somewhat consensual since both people have to be willing to move their feet.

  26. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

    The Teapot industry hugs. I have no idea why, but it might as well be France with the double kiss because it was this way when I got here 30 years ago.

    We do not hug within Wakeen’s. The internal operations of Wakeen’s are hug free. Hugging is between outside industry contacts and contacts at Wakeen’s. It is just What Is Done.

    Since you know it is coming, because it *always* does, you can back out of a hug quickly with a hand extended and also, like a quick peck peck double kiss, the hugs themselves are more body motion than actual body touching. Over in an instant.

    Freaking bizarre I’ve always thought, don’t you? EVERYBODY does it. I don’t mind at all, don’t even think about it past the first 10 years I was like “what is this”?

  27. DecorativeCacti*

    I love hugs. Hugs all day long! But only from people whom I know and trust. My boyfriend? Surprise hug is great. Coworkers? Strangers? At a job interview? No, thank you! Hugging privileges are earned.

    At my current job, there was someone who had been with the company for longer than I’ve been alive and she didn’t like being touched. So when you did get a hug (like when she retired) it was special.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      My BFF is that way. I’ve known her for 30 years and she’s never been emotionally demonstrative. It’s just who she is. I seldom get hugs. Like in the last 5 years…maybe 5 hugs? I can remember just about all of them (where we were, what we were doing, why I got it, etc). My kids? She hugs them all the time and they’re young enough that they haven’t yet realized how special they are to her that she hugs them all the time.

  28. Mrs. Fenris*

    My field involves some pretty emotional interactions with clients, and I do hug or get hugged occasionally. It’s OK up to a point. My biggest problem is, seriously, that I’m taller than a lot of women. So if they hug me I risk either squishing them (lightly) into my chest, or leaning down too far, then standing back up too fast and bonking their chin with my head. I’m serious. Of all the potential awkwardness of the whole thing, that is the one that gives me the most trouble!

    1. Sandy*

      I’d never thought of that. I’m really small so my head usually fits nicely somewhere between the breasts and the chin. And then I hug someone who is my size and… I don’t fit anymore. It is really disconcerting having my breasts touch someone else’s. But this is all friends. I have only ever hugged colleages when they are leaving the compagny as in sort of a “goodbye, I enjoyed working with you, now we are unlikely to meet again soon”-way.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      Height differences are a thing in hugs! When I was vet nursing we would of course have clients we knew really well have their animals euthanised. I am deeply uncomfortable with hugs, and I still remember this older guy whose life revolved around his little dog; he was so heart broken when he had to put her down. We’d been talking about her, as you do (we always encouraged people to talk to us if they wanted, as many people don’t have anyone in their lives who appreciates the depth of their grief), and he was just standing there looking so lost. I gave him a brief shoulder squeeze – it felt like the most awkward display of sympathy ever, but I think he appreciated it.

  29. Anne of Green Tables*

    My development my be arrested, but NO TOUCHING!

    No hugs. God no. My cube used to be near a hugger’s office and I had to introduce him to the 3 foot rule. I would keep a plotter paper tube to swing around me so that he could have a visual reference of the distance required between us.

    Apparently my cherub shape and helpful personality makes people think that I want their arms draped on me or that I yearn for an awkward high-5 transfer of germs or a gooey handshake. Nope. Nope. Nope.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I love that you swing a paper tube as a visual reference. Do you carry it with you through the office and wield it when someone steps too close???
      I have a small carpet on the floor of my cube that I use for visual reference for co-workers. I have a co-worker who doesn’t seem to get personal space rules and before I got the carpet she’d step in real close to ask me a question or talk about her weekend. Now I just remind her that if she’s on the carpet she’s much too close to me and she steps back off of it.

  30. fishy*

    “In March, one worker ran around the room to evade a hug, chased by the company’s managing director.”

    Just reading this freaks me out. If people are literally running away from you to escape your embrace, you need to rethink your hugging habits!

  31. Preppy6917*

    I used to work for a company well known for its culture, and part of that was “hugs, not handshakes”, which I grew to despise. It’s one thing to feel comfortable enough with someone to hug them, but it’s quite another when it’s an expectation.

    Also, re: “Huggers ‘seem to feel they’re really good at judging when someone wants a hug, but based on what the nonhuggers are saying, they’re wrong about that’,” this seems awfully similar to extroverts thinking they know when others want to engage with them.

  32. Nana*

    Recently, walking in Laguna Beach with Danish friends, encountered two people wearing “Free Hugs” T-shirts (students at a local arts college). They were most respectful and ASKED first. And respected those who said no…and were pleasant to all they encountered. [Friends and I enjoyed the hugs and then watched them for a while, as they walked along.]

  33. Observer*

    I frankly don’t believe that huggers think they know when someone wants a hug – I think they are saying that to cover themselves. Let’s face it – how can you think that someone who is running away from you wants a hug? The same guy who claims that it’s all good if people at work don’t want to hug also hugged someone who he clearly knew didn’t want a hug – to the point that security had to get involved.

    This comment is said by people who have hugged people after being given clear signs that someone doesn’t want a hug, they are all at least of normal intelligence. So they know perfectly well that some of the people they are hugging do NOT want it.

  34. Polite Hugger*

    I’m kind of amazed that there’s so many people who approach hugs without asking! I love hugs, but I would never consider hugging someone I work with (unless we were also friends outside of work), and I always ask! Even in social situations I say, “I do hugs, is that okay?” How someone could possibly just declare “I’m a hugger” and go for it at work is beyond me.

  35. ST*

    I love hugs – from my kids, my grandmother, and (most of the time) my father.

    Any other hugs need only be from someone I’m going to or have been having sex with.

    In the office the handshake, high five, or fist bump will suffice.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I’m a fan of the non-touching “thumbs up”. It’s even better if they do the Fonzi “Heeeeeeey!” with it. :)

  36. ST*

    and this: “the lines between life and work blur”

    Stop blurring them, unless you plan to pay me for my off hours, too.

  37. weeloo*

    The workplace is so cold and lonely if you go by commenters here. No talking about anything personal. No hugs. No bringing in food or offering it to others. No showing your emotions. No alcohol. It’s like sitting in a cold isolated box for 8 hours a day and we wonder why people have emotional issues in this country? I would be fine with the social rules of modern offices if I had to spend less of my life in them. I am a hugger, I like getting to know people deeply (it’s how I’m motivated to do my work), I am a cake pusher and a baker, I am an extrovert and I need talking and discussion to get my brain moving properly. But I’m stuck in a cube by myself all day and expected to get things done and if I can’t deal with it it’s ‘oh go become a preschool teacher.’ Introverts and such think they are at a disadvantage but the entire N. American office culture is built around them.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve never found the consensus here to be “no talking about anything personal … no bringing in food or offering it to others … no showing your emotions.” Sure, a few commenters may have said those things at times, but it’s far from the majority opinion.

    2. Greg M.*

      I’m so sorry that you’re offended by people not wanted to be touched without permission or have their boundaries respected.

      “emotional issues” you mean the multiple people in this thread alone talking about their ptsd that is triggered by people hugging them against their will?

      I think you’re picking the wrong battle here.

      I actually don’t want people to know me deeply or to know them deeply, I have my own issues and prefer my privacy because after a decade and a half of constant bullying where every single thing out of my mouth was used against me for years I prefer my privacy.

      I’m going to say something here, something that my coworkers and other extroverts need to learn: I am not your entertainment nor am I responsible for “getting your brain going”. You know what I need to get my brain going? to be left alone to work without people interrupting or bugging me with unimportant topics. Why should your need for conversation trump my need to not have conversation?

      1. aebhel*

        I’m going to say something here, something that my coworkers and other extroverts need to learn: I am not your entertainment nor am I responsible for “getting your brain going”.

        This. “I need intimate emotional connections to people to be happy! You’re a person in my vicinity, so it’s your job to give that to me, regardless of your boundaries or feelings on the subject or whether you even like me as an individual!”

        If you need a lot of contact with other people to be happy, choose a job where there’s a lot of contact with other people. There’s plenty of them out there.

        1. weeloo*

          There really aren’t if you want to do high level intellectual work. It’s basically, go work in a day care.

          1. aebhel*

            Okay, sure, you’ve got me. There’s no such thing as lawyers, PR consultants, college professors, financial advisers, journalists… the only career option that will satisfy extroverts is working a day care.

            Look, I realize that some types of intellectual jobs don’t involve a lot of collaboration with coworkers, and that those are the kind of jobs that tend to attract introverts and drive extroverts crazy. But just as I don’t have a lot of sympathy for an introvert that goes into sales and then complains about having to talk to people, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for an extrovert who goes into a field dominated by introverts and then complains that nobody wants to hug them or chat with them.

          2. BouncingBall*

            As someone with a career in early childhood education, I suggest you reframe this sentiment. Or, at the very least, don’t say it around any teachers.

      2. weeloo*

        When people push to have less meetings or not to ask co-workers questions in person, it shuts off people who work best by discussing with others and brainstorming. I can go almost weeks without actually talking to people in my cube and get nothing done, and then have a short meeting with a co-worker which completely moves all my ideas forward and accomplish more in a day than I did for two weeks. But I’m sure someone like you would say ‘it’s not my business’ but would insist that you need your privacy and alone time as well. Humans are social creatures. There seems to be a crusade by people like you to completely remove human interaction from the office and it has many detrimental effects.

        Also ‘getting to know people.’ Why should I go out of my way or do anything helpful for you if I don’t know you or like you? Why should I work any harder than the bare minimum to get paid or help anyone outside of what’s strictly necessary if I don’t know or care about them?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I hear what you’re saying, but in my experience (and I think the experience of a lot of other people), this stuff is still very lopsided in favor of extroverts. You might be in a field where that’s not true, but broadly speaking extroverts still tend to win out over introverts in offices.

    3. Thlayli*

      I can see where you’re coming from. I went to the American office of my old job once and they had cubicles with really high walls you couldn’t see over. Coming from a European open-plan office I found it really freaky. I felt like I was in a horror movie. The idea of sitting in a little box like that all day every day and not seeing anyone really freaked me out. I couldn’t work somewhere like that long term. It felt like a prison cell. I was only there for a few hours TG.

      However, I think the extreme opposite described in This article is bad too. Forcing hugs on other people who have clearly said they don’t want them is just completely unfair.

      I’m sorry your work life is so bleak. If I worked somewhere like that I would be continually job searching. I’m sending you a virtual hug *hug*

    4. Augusta Sugarbean*

      It’s not useful or accurate to try and generalize about “the entire N. American office culture”. There have been plenty of introvert-unfriendly open office plans, cubicles, team-building exercises/retreats discussed here.

      Besides, I go to work to work. I’m polite and civil and do a small amount of socializing at work. But it’s my work not my life. Just because you operate one way doesn’t mean people who do things differently are wrong or a bunch of cold fish.

      1. Anoushka*

        I understand a lot of what you’re saying, weeloo. I’m a Canadian living in the UK, and it never fails to shock me how much warmer people are with their colleagues here. People chat about more personal things at work, talk much more, go out more together, are very very often linked on social media, and have, in my opinion, much warmer relationships with colleagues. It’s a breath of fresh air. In Canada everything was so separate – your house and family are in one place, your colleagues are just colleagues who you see at work where you must be your super perfect professional self at all times, your friends are at the place you drive to meet them. To me, it always felt really wrong and incredibly lonely. I’m not as open with most colleagues as I would be with a friend, but I appreciate the fact I can be me at work, which I didn’t feel I could ever be in Canada. I had a miscarriage in October, and don’t feel I would have gotten through it if I hadn’t told a few colleagues I was close to. I can’t imagine trying to get through the days without their care, their hugs, their chats. Screw cold, professional, brave face, discretion.
        I remember Alison once wrote people make poor decisions at new workplaces because they bring bad habits in that only worked at old places. I feel like that’s my whole experience with being a professional robot in Canada. Now I’m more open, and the extra support at work only makes my work better.
        While I respect some people’s need to put such firm barriers in between parts of their lives, I don’t really understand it. I don’t hug without asking, but I don’t understand an aversion to hugging. I realise it’s the right thing to do (not hugging) , and no one should be forced to hug, but my gut tells me to stay away from people who are so averse that they want to shove me off. It’s too cold for me. I’m not even an extrovert. I read these posts and I feel at a loss.

        1. LBK*

          People chat about more personal things at work, talk much more, go out more together, are very very often linked on social media, and have, in my opinion, much warmer relationships with colleagues.

          I’m curious what the average age is in your old office vs your new office. I’ve found that younger colleagues are a lot more open to socialization because they don’t have as established of a friend base. Older people tend to have their own social lives and support systems (often people they used to work with) and don’t end up naturally leaning on coworkers as a result.

          This also varies by office so I don’t know that you can draw broad cultural conclusions from it. I’m sure there are plenty of offices in the UK that are just as cold and formal.

          1. Anoushka*

            I agree with your points. There are definitely differences between offices as well – I just started my fourth job in the UK, and it’s far, far less chummy and supportive than other places I’ve worked (it’s quite an old office as well – plus it’s a bank) – but I still think that, generally speaking, work/life blurs a lot more in the UK than Canada. Half my office spends lunch hour walking around a lake outside our building, and a couple of colleagues have confided in me about things that go beyond generic personal stuff, despite me only having been there a couple of weeks! I know my boss is Facebook friends with a few colleagues, too. I think a lot of it boils down to shorter commute times. In the UK you’re generally five minutes away or less from a pub, and most people have commutes between 10-40 minutes, so a quick drink with someone doesn’t take up your whole evening. And I think a lot more people view work as something that simply gets them some money – ‘getting to the top’ people who love their work exist, but I think a lot of Britons see those kind of people as odd. There’s not the culture of constant self improvement and becoming the ultimate father/mother/wife/professional to the same degree either, so I think that means a lot of people are just themselves at work. That’s my experience, anyways.

      2. weeloo*

        It’s about me operating one way being unacceptable. While the other way is preferred in all circumstances.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m super friendly and outgoing but there’s a place for people touching me and work is not it.

    6. Switches to anon mode*

      I have a medical condition that means that hugs actually hurt me. The people I accept from (or give) non virtual hugs are very, very few because of this. While I adore cakes (cookies etc.), they dislike me so I have to decline them. :'( I don’t drink alcohol, but as long as you’re not going to be driving me (or yourself) then I’ll make no comment if someone I work with does, other than to enjoy their drink.
      If I’m not in the middle of something, then I’ll happily chat with you and talk about some personal things. I like to listen about what’s important to you and I try to recall info on loved ones and ask good questions on hobbies even those I have no clue about. I just ask that you respect that I don’t hug.
      Please do not assume that just because people prefer not to hug, that they are cold & I won’t presume that huggers who don’t take in that ‘hugs hurt switches’ are intentionally looking to cause me pain.

    7. Beancounter Eric*

      Really??? Really?!?!?
      “The entire N. American office culture is built around them.” (Introverts)???

      Most of my career has been with companies run by very extroverted people…and you want to hear a little secret??

      Too often, we introverts have to clean up the mess they make.
      Too often, we are left picking up the pieces of the snap-judgments, the hires of the loud and gregarious, the decisions made with ample discussion, where the discussion is dominated by the loudest and rudest, and the comments of the quiet thinkers are too often discarded or even more often, shouted down.

      In my 25+ years in office environments, none are really built for introverts. None.

      One, back in the 90’s, by virtue of the industry and the layout of space allowed the Accounting/Finance crew quiet to work. One company, nearly 20 years ago. And now, since I have a door I can close – but keeping the door closed is frowned upon, and people just stroll in regardless.

      “No talking about anything personal”…..don’t know where you are, but with rare exception, I deal with the “my kids did this”, “my boy/girl/whatever-friend did that”, “my spouse did such-and-such” and quite frankly, I really don’t care. I’m at work to work, not to hear stories about your kids, your spouse, or your pet wildebeest!!

      “No alcohol”??? Sure, I really want to work with someone liquored up at lunch – I really want to go out on our shop floor with forklifts moving around being driven by people who had a couple of pints midday.

      No showing emotions??? Again, don’t know where you are, but I’ve seen plenty of emotion in my years in the workplace….could do with a tiny bit less at times, too.

      1. weeloo*

        Not if you are driving forklifts, but having a beer at lunch isn’t going to kill you if you do office work.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sure, and lots of people here agree with you on that. Don’t paint the entire comment section as having a consensus that it doesn’t have!

        2. Beancounter Eric*

          In the half-dozen companies I have worked for in the past 25 years, I can remember exactly one permitting alcohol consumption at lunch – and that was in relation to client entertainment. And I seldom saw alcohol on expense reports during my stay there.(All expense reports came across my desk for review)

          A pint after work…ok. A glass of wine on the weekend….sure. But not at lunch when one is going back to work. And office work can be hindered by alcohol consumption very easily.

    8. LBK*

      I think the people who feel more strongly about it are just more vocal and that’s why it seems that way, but none of those things are remotely reflective of any office I’ve worked in and I’m in Boston, a city known for its (literal and figurative) coldness. Hugging is still pretty off limits, but personal talk, bringing in food and going out for drinks together are completely normal and common, and from talking to my friends I get the impression that my office is still on the more formal side.

      I’m curious what industry and line of work you’re in. I’m in financial operations, which tends to attract introverts, but we’re all still pretty chatty and friendly with each other, and a lot of my coworkers hang out together outside of work (I’m a little stricter about it only insofar as I like to leave work at work, and I find that’s tough when you hang out with coworkers).

    9. aebhel*


      My workplace has people bringing in cookies all the time. We chat about Star Trek and our families and annoying patrons. I generally have a warm, friendly relationship with my coworkers, even the ones who occasionally get on my nerves. Some of them are even huggers–with EACH OTHER. I have trauma associated with intimate contact, though, and I’m not obligated to hug people just because they need physical contact to be happy. Nobody is obligated to do that.

  38. ZucchiniBikini*

    I’m a non-hugger at work, although quite amenable to hugs in my personal life (I have several friends who are very huggy and I don’t mind being hugged by them upon every meeting!) Other than with my children and my partner, and sometimes my mum, I rarely initiate hugs though – I am more of a huggee, I guess.

    I think the only times I have ever been hugged by coworkers were at farewell functions when I was leaving jobs, and even then, most people offered a handshake instead. A few friendly souls offered (not demanded!) goodbye hugs and I was OK with it, but the key was in the “Can I give you a goodbye hug?” question, which gave me the chance to say no.

    That said, I really, REALLY do not like the air kiss or worse yet, double-cheek kiss that sometimes have featured in coworkers, clients or (worst of all) manager interactions in my career. No, no, no. I do not want to kiss you or even pretend to. Don’t make this a thing!!

    (Worst ever though – I used to work with a woman who, I’m not kidding, greeted coworkers of any gender with a kiss ON THE LIPS. “Oh, that’s just how we do it in my family,” she’s airily proclaim. As soon as anyone expressed discomfort she’d stop doing to that person, but just kept going with everyone else who was too awkward to say anything. Oooooo, I’m getting squirrelly just remembering that!)

  39. Casuan*

    re hugging at work:
    Are the same companies that hug also the same companies who let parents in on interviews & call an employee’s parents to let them know how the employyee is doing at their job?

    That hug video… Seriously, no. I’m not a toddler learning to hug. I’m a grown adult who is thankful not to hug in a professional setting.
    hm. Actually I did hug my boss once. His close relative had passed away.

  40. ..Kat..*

    A wet, uncovered sneeze just as an unwanted hugger moves in for the kill (I mean hug) pretty much guarantees no more unwanted hug attempts. “Oops, sorry, allergies.”

  41. Chicklet*

    I have a very huggy family and friend group. We hug each other ALL. THE. TIME. I’d still be incredibly uncomfortable being hugged at work

  42. Dust Bunny*

    Dear God, no hugging! I am so grateful my department, even though we all like each other, are non-touchers. Yikes.

  43. Sara without an H*

    I think Student may be on to something, that this is a form of dominance on the part of the hugger, but it may also be attributable to the erosion of any distinction between public and private spaces.

    I am happy to hug intimates. Everybody else, keep an arms-length away from me. Or else.

Comments are closed.