Business hugs

Let me preface this by saying I wrote this blog draft in February 2015, but after reading about John Lasseter’s wandering hands I was reminded of this post that never saw the light of day. And although it’s been over a year since my last post, and a lot of thoughts and feelings and life events need recounting, I thought, what the hell. Let’s share, as a reminder that Business Hugs may be a slippery slope to getting your ass fired for inappropriate behavior or worse. Just. Say. No.

Here are a few tips from the pros on how to nail that first in-person meeting with a potential client: Smile to put them at ease and show that a relationship with you will be a pleasant one. Make steady but not aggressive eye contact. Use your client’s name in conversation—people love hearing their own name.

And at the end of the meeting, approach your client until you are face to face, then lean in and confidently apply your entire frontside to the entire frontside of this stranger. And—voila! Stranger no more. Close, personal hug-buddy. Leave no room between you, to show how close a partnership this will be. Lean fully into it, to show how far you’re willing to go—until your naughty bits almost but don’t quite touch. This is a business transaction after all.

If this seems like a totally weird, in-what-world-would-this-happen scenario to you, let me guess (without even trying to feel them) that your particular naughty bits are male and maybe heterosexual. Let me also guess that you are imagining two heterosexual dudes playing the parts of salesman and client. And this scenario will probably not happen, like, ever, because if you need a seat between you and your heterosexual man friend in a movie theater, then there’s no way you’re going for a full bro-body-on-bro-body hug in a professional situation.

Also? Shame on you! Women can be salesmen now too. And now you’re imagining the very few appropriate and non-litigious ways you may touch a female business associate and you’re probably very uncomfortable. Good for you.

I have, in fact, been party to a number of business hugs. I am never the one to initiate, and I am NOT. A. FAN. I don’t want my colleagues to know what my boobs feel like when smooshed up against them. You may appreciate or ignore them from a distance, but only a select circle may know their spreadability and heft.

Honestly if I wanted my breasts involved in my professional relationships I would have been a wet nurse.

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And it’s not like I think that all men are trying to get in there (despite my angling)—I don’t want to hug a female colleague either. I don’t give out free hugs. Some folks think I don’t like hugs at all, which is not true. It’s just that, in my mind, a hug says, “I am genuinely happy to see you!” “It’s been such a while since we’ve met in person, I’ve corporeally missed you!” or “I have a great deal of affection for you!”

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And sorry, Tim, Director of Corporate Communications, none of those statements are true when we meet. I would like to acknowledge you in a friendly and professional manner, with a strong handshake and a warm smile to show that I do appreciate your business. I do not want to wrap my arms around you and pull you close to my bosom.

I do not want to think about the word bosom during the workday.

It usually happens that the other party initiated the hug upon me. Or someone else in the room has started the trend and I don’t feel I can back out of it by shafting someone with a cold handshake. It’s too late for me, and while my male counterparts (counterpenis?) might buck the trend out of above-noted fear of uncomfortable gray areas*, everyone expects me to hug because I am a squishy woman.

But guess what, motherfuckers: I DONT WANT TO HUG EVERYONE. I say NO to business hugs. I AM NOT SQUISHY. Even if I were, it is not for you to find out. I don’t care about hurting your feelings; nut up and keep them nuts away from my belly button, probably. I don’t want this to get personal. MAINTAIN YOUR DISTANCE and you won’t get stabbed by the box cutter I keep angled forward in the inside breast pocket of my smart pantsuit.

Join me. SAY NO to business hugs.

*Note: If your naughty bits have become an uncomfortable gray area, you should consult your doctor. Let them know if you’ve been traveling through Old Valyria recently.

2 Comments

  • Aubrey says:

    I need to remember this. TWICE in the past five years, I’ve misinterpreted body language with a customer (both women) as them coming in for a hug versus a handshake at the end of a meeting. Both times we had a nice hug but I beat myself up afterwards. Blergh, I need to remember NO BUSINESS HUGS.

    Oh, I miss the military days of a good ole hand salute based on rank LOL.

    • Jennifer says:

      Oof! It’s weird that hugs are even an option in business situations, and, honestly, clear-cut, well-regulated greetings would avoid a lot of confusion.

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