Some people are huggers and some people aren’t. And then there are people like me who fall somewhere in between.

I don’t do a lot of hugging at work. I probably wouldn’t initiate a hug with a coworker or run up to a coworker with my arms outstretched. But if one of my coworkers feels like hugging me, I don’t complain. I actually like a hug, now and then.

But not everyone feels the same way. Some people just don’t like to be hugged, and that’s OK! The problem is that hugging at the office can sometimes be hard to avoid. It’s a pretty common practice, and people who enjoy hugging can be very determined.

So if you’re not a hugger, what should you do? Well, research psychologist Peggy Drexler offers these suggestions on how to ward off a hug:

  • Keep an object (like a coffee mug or a notebook) between you and the hugger.
  • Be very direct and explain that you’re not a hugger.
  • Before the hugger can hug you, sideline the person by firmly shaking his or her hand.
  • Act like you have somewhere else that you urgently need to be.
  • Drop your cell phone.

And if you ARE a hugger, keep this simple guideline in mind: If you’d like to hug a coworker, but you’re not entirely sure it would be appropriate, it’s probably not appropriate. When in doubt, don’t hug!


A New Rule for the Workplace: Hug Sparingly. (2014, January 11). In NPR. Retrieved from