I enjoy giving harassment training. There are a lot of interesting nuances that lead to entertaining discussions. One issue that always comes up in the training is whether it’s OK to hug. You see more hugging in some workplaces (such as hospitals) than in others (such as metal forging operations). Some of it has to do with the nature of the work. Some of it has to do with the makeup of the workforce (mostly women vs. mostly men).

Since we’re dealing with a “gray area” – in the sense that sometimes hugging is OK and sometimes it’s not – here are some useful clues that may indicate that your co-workers don’t want you to hug them:

  1. They make a point of having a pile of folders in their arms whenever they encounter you.
  2. They not only don’t hug you back, but look panic stricken when you approach.
  3. When you wrap them in a comforting embrace they become rigid, sob uncontrollably, or attempt to escape.
  4. They haven’t informed you — ideally in a notarized writing — that they want you to hug them.
  5. They specifically say, “Get your dirty paws off me you perv!”

Are there any others that I’m missing?

bears hug