My name is Aly, and I’m a hugger. My primary love language is touch and hugging is how I constructively meet that need within my family and friends.

As technology allows us to live more and more in virtual relationships without ever needing a physical presence, I think hugging is becoming a lost art. We are more connected than ever and yet we are lonelier than ever. And that’s having some dire consequences on many young people: stress, anxiety, depression, lower confidence and more.

Did you know that scientific studies are showing some people have the same reaction in their brains from a hug by getting a LIKE on their FB status?? As an Extrovert, I totally understand the want and need for external validation, but really?? I’d rather have a hug. A real hug.

I understand some of you may already be creeped right out and are milliseconds from hitting your delete button. Breath, stay with me. Breath. I understand that hugging is not comfortable for everyone and that it must be approached with respect to others and some awareness.

Hugging in a workplace or professional setting needs some boundaries.

  1. Always ask permission and respect the answer. I find when I ask, I have never gotten a no but I can tell with body language even before I ask how the other person my be feeling about the hug.
  2. Only give a hug when you sincerely mean it. No fake hugs, please. It’s worse than a manipulative compliment or trying to shake hands with the ‘dead fish’.
  3. Consider the authority balance. Going around and hugging your superiors is not cool, especially if you’re using it as a way to get ahead (see #2). Hugging your direct reports might be very supportive but it comes down to whether you have permission (see #1) and your relationship with each person is close enough to do so.
  4. Hugs do not replace handshakes. There is a time and a place for a sincere hug and that boundary needs to be respected. If in doubt, offer a firm, palm to palm handshake with eye contact. Many times I have defaulted to this and had the other person laugh and say, ‘Aw come on, I don’t get a hug?!”
  5. Don’t play favorites. If you are in a group of colleagues please don’t doll out your best hugs to just a few and walk away. Either make it even or don’t at all. Maybe there’s a closet hugger in the group now feeling alienated and left out.
  6. Hugging can be flirting. If you have any question about a physical attraction to anyone in your office, do not be hugging! This is a slippery slope you do not want to fall down. Hugging can also be perceived as harassment so please abide by rule #1 and remember you always have the right to say NO.

Perhaps because I’m a ‘very out there hugger,’ I don’t tend to attract people who don’t want to hug. I’ve also made my hugs part of my trademark and so people know me for that and want my hugs.