The #MeToo movement has changed the way relatively simple actions, such as hugging a co-worker who has received a promotion or going through another life event, are perceived. Many people prefer to err on the side of caution and not embrace a co-worker in such situations, even if they would not have thought twice about it before. Some attorneys advise to not embrace a colleague, for any reason, to stay on the safe side. However, much depends on the circumstances and the industry involved.
Cultures of Hugging
In more conservative industries, such as insurance or finance, any type of embrace is rare. If employed in such a field, it is probably best to never embrace a colleague, but even then there are exceptions. If a longtime co-worker experiences a death in the family or other tragedy, sometimes an apology is not enough. In these situations, however, it is best to refrain from giving a quick embrace to someone you do not know well.
In other industries, such as health care, touching is more common. The same holds true for hospitality fields. Regions also play an important role. What is appropriate in southern California may not seem appropriate in New York City or Boston. It is also more acceptable to embrace someone on the same power level, rather than a subordinate. Avoid hugging employee underlings, or anyone who depends on you for their paycheck.
In many situations, a handshake can serve the same purpose as a hug. That is true for any type of congratulations given to a co-worker, although it is not suitable when a colleague is going through a difficult time. In that case, placing your hand atop the colleague’s hand and giving a slight squeeze is an alternative to hugging.
When it is a question of whether to hug a co-worker, look for cues in the potential hug recipient. Some people just do not like being touched. It is also not a good idea to ask if you can give someone a hug because the person may feel uncomfortable saying no. If you are someone who does not like embracing, hold your hand out for a shake if you think a co-worker is heading for a hug. If an individual will not make eye contact or looks down, they are often telegraphing they do not want to embrace, so it is best to avoid it.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Workers with All Types of Employment Cases
If you are dealing with an employment issue, including inappropriate touching, you need the services of the experienced Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Call us today at 215-569-1999 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey.