HR Strange But True!
February 10, 2011

While a hug as a greeting may be de rigueur on TV talk shows, most execs frown on the practice in the workplace, finding it “inappropriate,” according to a recent survey by The Creative Group. The negative reaction extends to hugs for coworkers and clients.

While 3 in 10 advertising and marketing executives participating in the survey said hugging colleagues is at least somewhat common in the United States, and nearly one-quarter (24 percent) said it’s not out of the ordinary to greet clients that way, 7 in 10 (76 percent) of executives interviewed said embracing coworkers in a business setting is inappropriate; said they rarely, if ever, hug clients or business contacts and seldom hug coworkers.

The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service, and conducted by an independent research firm.

The survey suggests that embracing colleagues may be more prevalent at advertising agencies versus corporate marketing environments: 48 percent of advertising agency executives said it is somewhat or very common to hug coworkers, versus 29 percent of their corporate marketing counterparts. And 41 percent of advertising executives said they embrace clients or business contacts, versus 24 percent of marketing executives.

“When it comes to business greetings, it’s important to read your audience and the environment well,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “It’s always best to err on the formal side to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable.”"

The Creative Group offers four tips for greeting business contacts with grace:

  1. Make the first move. To avoid awkwardness, extend your hand first—that way it will be clear which type of greeting is most comfortable.
  2. Clue into customs. If you are working with international contacts, be familiar with their traditional greetings, whether it is bowing, cheek kissing, or shaking hands.
  3. Start with those less familiar to you. If you are meeting with a group of people, introduce yourself to new contacts with a handshake before greeting long-term professionals you would like to hug.
  4. When it doubt, play it safe. A firm, 3-second handshake, accompanied by a warm smile and good eye contact, communicates confidence and friendliness in most situations.

And, your HRSBT editors think, if another round of flu circulates, you probably should just wave hello.


The Creative Group

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