Business Hugging in the post-COVID world

I am not a “hugger”. It was not part of the cultural norm of the family that I grew up in to hug on greeting or departure. When I started work at IBM in late 1970’s, proper business etiquette was a firm handshake for any occasion, whether it be an introduction, a greeting, a good-bye or even announcing an award or accomplishment.

I am not sure when the world changed, but some time between the late 1980’s and the mid 1990’s, the world flipped from it being a breach of business etiquette to give someone of the opposite sex a hug, to it being breach of etiquette to not give that person a hug.

Not being a “hugger” and being somewhat socially awkward, I found this transition hard, to the point of keeping a mental rolodex of which of my female colleagues are “huggers” and which are “not huggers” so I would know the appropriate behavior when greeting them. Some days, I felt like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory trying to understand social protocols

Over time, I have grown to enjoy the “hug” from female colleagues and have even got comfortable with male relatives and colleagues who are “huggers”. So now after 25 years of learning to be a “hugger”, what does this mean for post-COVID?

Will the new protocol for the 2020’s be the elbow bump or are we going back to the Disco “Bump” from the 1970’s for greetings between closer friends and colleagues? “The times, they are a changin” .

So to all my colleagues, male and female, I will apologize in advance. It took me many years to figure to the new business protocols of “hugging”. It will likely take me longer to figure it out post-COVID. 😊

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