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Is the kiss-and-hug greeting overdone in the workplace?

Posted Sep 23, 2013 9:19 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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America has become “a hugging culture,” but its place at work can be problematic, according to a psychology professor.

Writing at the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), Weill Cornell Medical College professor Peggy Drexler confesses she’s not a hugger, which puts her at odds with U.S. culture where hugs seem to have become more commonplace.

There can be valid reasons to hug in the workplace—after a big team win, for example, or to say goodbye after a downsizing, Drexler says. But she also notes that hugs could lead to “a warning in your personnel file” and are apparently unpopular, given surveys that say most people don't want intimacy with other workers.

The Careerist blog notes the story and offers its own opinion. “I feel there's way too much kissing and hugging on the job,” the Careerist writes. “Have you noticed that business folks are now behaving like a bevy of homecoming queen contestants when they see each other? So much smooching!”

The blogger talked to others who are in agreement, including a senior counsel at a Fortune 500 company who says women who never offered career support are offering hugs. “Instead of hugging me, promote me and give me the title I deserve,” the senior counsel said.

A male lawyer at a major company told the Careerist that hugs are particularly problematic when promoted by the boss. “That is where the problem lies—people may feel forced to kiss and hug when they are uncomfortable doing so,” the lawyer said.

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