In Romans 16:16 in the Bible Paul wrote in New Testament commanding believers to make contact or touch others with a warm smile, hand-clasp and a friendly hug. Paul encouraged the congregation and church members to give each other a hug, a touch as a sign of unity to greet each other with a holy kiss and hugs. And speak through the Psalms as people quote Shakespeare to share favourite lines in literature. The Pentecostals often greet each other with kisses and hugs. Visitors are welcomed this way so if the new members are not used to such a way of greeting they can feel innaudated and intimidated by the zealous members embracing or kissing them if not used to an intimate way of expressing agape love. Recently, in the church a female pastor rushed towards a new male visitor and proceeded to try to hug him as she does for many years. But the new member raised both his hands to indicate, ‘do not touch me or come too close.’ It surprised everyone as it had never happened before. Maybe others out of politeness and courtesy tolerate it or probably just go along with kisses or hugs, but no one ever rejected it before. It is perfectly understable if some people feel uncomfortable and say no, it does not mean rejection of the one expressing such Biblical principles. On other occasions, for security reasons, important leaders are not allowed to be touched or hugged under any circumstances. Of course that scenario can happen in church gatherings so if not sure, ask if it is alright to do so. In some places female to female hugs and kisses are preferred or handshakes encouraged. But the woman must first extend her hand to a man because the man is not allowed to shake a married women’s hands in some cultures. On the other hand there are countries that see kiss or hugs as prerogative of diplomacy so must be done. In some churches women are only allowed to kiss and hug other women as men kiss and hug the men. In an age of legal homosexuality, lesbian partnerships or marriages the churches in favour has no problems or prefer handshakes. However is common in the workplace to encourage hugging for bonding and a sense of belonging. But how about those people in the offices who do not like to be kissed or bugged publicly at least at awkward moments. You are greeting someone or saying goodbye. Should you give that person a hug? Especially if it’s someone you don’t know well? You do not want to seem intrusive if you hug too soon, but you don’t want to appear overly stiff or too formal so you offer a handshake when a hug is expected. So what should you do? There a few good rules about hugging in our society.On one hand, Americans are famously informal and forthright. On the other hand, our nation has puritan roots so we are known for needing more personal space than other cultures. How do you strike a balance? Here are some guidelines to start from, many of which come from etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, author of Poised for Success.
1. Mind body language.
With hugs, as with kisses, another person’s body language will tell you whether he or she is willing to accept a hug or not. Before you go in for that squeeze, pay attention to what the person’s position, movement, and facial expression is telling you. Are the feet pointed toward you or away? Is the person leaning in, or distancing him or herself? What does your gut feeling tell you this person wants? When people offend others with a hug, it’s most often because they just barge right in and don’t stop to get a read on what other person wants. Don’t make that mistake. Children are now being taught to meet and greet properly to learn etiquette.
2. Ask Permission First.
If you want to hug someone, you think it welcomes you if not sure just ask. “May I give you a hug question indicates both affection, respect so likely appreciated. The only down side to this if people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable saying no. So if getting a negative or uncertain vibe do not even asking the question.
3. The Balance of Power.
A boss hugging an employee is a very different matter from two business associates hugging at the conclusion of a meeting. Be extra reserved about hugging if it can in any way seem like you’re using your power to disrespect another person’s boundaries. This is one reason Joe Biden recently drew so many criticisms for his putting his hands on a cabinet member’s wife during swearing in ceremony.
4. Consider the occasion.
If you haven’t seen a colleague in a long time, or you’ve just gone through a powerful training or other experience together, or you’re at acelebration, then hugging might well be appropriate. The same may apply if the person in question has just had a piece of very good, or very bad news, or is struggling to deal with a difficult situation. On the other hand, if you routinely see this person and nothing special is going on, then a hug probably isn’t warranted.
5. Avoid mixing hug & non hugs.
You’re greeting a group of people, some of whom you know well and others whom you know only slightly or have just met. Do you hug some but not others? No, Whitmore advises. Shake hands with everyone to be consistent avoid making some feel uncomfortable or left out.
6. Keep it short.
A hug can go from natural to awkward if you keep it going for too long. So make your hugs brief. Whitmore recommends a duration of no more than three seconds.
7. Don’t hug if contagious
The last thing you want to do is give your colleague a cold, or catch one from him or her. So if you’re uncertain about your own health, or the other person seems to be fighting an infection, stick to a handshake at most, although not touching at all is probably safest. You can always say that you’re avoiding touch out of concern that you might spread something you’ve been exposed to if you are really afraid of catching something from other person.
8. Don’t hug if not clean.
Let’s say you’re meeting on a very hot day, and you’ve gotten sweaty on your walk over from the parking lot. Or you’ve had a workout and returned to work but didn’t have time to shower. Or you’ve been out at a site visit and gotten grimy. In those circumstances, avoid hugging. The last thing you want to do is gross someone out.
9. Err on not hugging.
If you’re not sure whether a hug would be welcome, and you don’t think it’s a good idea to ask, then don’t hug. You’ll almost never offend someone with a handshake.
10. Cease the right moment.
In spite of all these caveats, I’m still a believer in the power of human contact. So if you feel like a hug is warranted and none of the obstacles above apply, I say go for it. I once met a business contact face-to-face for the first time after we’d been working together for several years. I felt like I knew him, and he seemed to feel the same, because at our first meeting, he greeted me with a hug. I was surprised, but happily so. During that brief meeting we talked more about our lives than about business and by the time I left, I had a human relationship to go with the emails and voice on the phone. That hug was a great way to start.