When in Doubt, Don't 'Hug It Out'

hug it out You might want to think twice before you pull an "Ari Gold" and attempt to hug it out in the office. A recent survey by The Creative Group, showed that seven in 10 executives said embracing co-workers in a business setting is inappropriate and 76 percent said they rarely, if ever, hug clients or business contacts.

Most of the executives interviewed for the survey feel hugging in the workplace is a foreign concept in the United States. Only three in 10 said hugging colleagues is at least somewhat common in the United States, and just one-quarter (24 percent) said it's not out of the ordinary to greet clients that way.

"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're working with international contacts, be familiar with their traditional greetings, whether it's bowing, cheek kissing or shaking hands.
  3. Start with those less familiar to you. If you're meeting with a group of people, introduce yourself to new contacts with a handshake before greeting long-term professional colleagues who you know like to hug.
  4. When in doubt, play it safe. A firm, three-second handshake, accompanied by a warm smile and good eye contact, communicates confidence and friendliness in most situations.

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