When is it appropriate to hug?

To hug or not to hug, that is the question. Probably not the conundrum the Bard was thinking of, but a good one nonetheless.

The topic came up in the newsroom recently. I'm not sure how, or why, but I know there was talk of poker and kissing on the lips. Standard Friday afternoon banter then.

However it happened, it ended up being a rather robust discussion on the all-too-often awkward moments of greeting someone.

Do you keep it formal with a handshake? Or familiar with a kiss on the cheek? The lips? Are high-fives ever okay? Where does the humble hug fit into day-to-day interactions? My God, it's like the matrix.

And, it seems, a controversial topic.  It might seem like a little thing, but is there ever anything more uncomfortable than a mis-timed, misplaced greeting?

Personally, as many of my nearest and dearest will tell you, I am not a hugger. Never have been, only ever will be after enough Pinot Gris, and even then it's kind of like cuddling up to a Rubik's cube. 

A lot of people I interact with on a daily basis are though. 

When I mentioned to my workmates that I am often greeted at meetings or interviews with a hug, they were flabbergasted. Of course most of them spend their days in court or covering the goings on of council, and wandering into to a room full of lawyers with arms outstretched probably isn't the done thing.

But even outside of work, what is and isn't "normal" seems to vary from person to person. In a discussion between four, relatively well adjusted, people not one of us had the same definition of what was appropriate.

Personally, I never initiate a hug, but I also won't turn one away (that just makes it even more cringe-worthy).

One person was all for them, one had a fear of the "lingering" embrace, and another just couldn't get over the fact I get paid to (occasionally) hug people.

But I think the general consensus was a desperate need for a standard guideline; a hard and fast list of who should hug whom, and when. No confusion, no over eagerness, no disappointment. Pinot Gris optional.

Auckland Now