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Handle a hugger at work

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Sometimes a nice, warm hug is welcome. Other times—like at work—it is just awkward. That kind of display of affection can even be downright inappropriate, especially if it goes against your organization’s HR policies. When a hugger is coming at you, how do you avoid the advance without hurting the person’s feelings? Use one of these suggestions from clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg:

  • Substitute another action. Step back and offer some other form of greeting, for example, a high five, handshake or even fist bump.
  • Use the “matador” approach. Step to the side, with one arm outstretched to block the hug, and shake the person’s hand or pat him or her on the back with your other hand.
  • Be honest. If you aren’t up for dodging a coworker’s hugs all day, when someone goes in for one, hold up your hand, and say politely, “I’m just not comfortable hugging coworkers” and leave it at that.
  • Speak to your boss or HR manager. If after you have made it clear that you don’t want to be hugged, talk to your supervisor or go to HR. Such advances can border on harassment.

— Adapted from “Hugging at the Office? Here’s Some Advice to Handle the Situation,” Kathryn Tuggle, www.thestreet.com.

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