Hugging can be a really lovely way to show affection and how much we care we care when words won’t do. Touch can also help people to feel closer to each other. It can be, however, difficult to know when it is appropriate wrap your arms around someone, so here are some guidelines.
ASSESS THE SITUATION
There are times when it’s appropriate to hug, for example, when saying hello or goodbye to a close friend. However, sometimes people may feel more comfortable with a simple handshake or a wave goodbye. It is good to be especially gentle with young children as some of them may be uncomfortable receiving hugs even from people inside their family. Also, when hugging someone of the opposite gender, who isn’t a friend, it’s especially good to be careful, as people could perceive this as a way of flirting, which may make the situation awkward and uncomfortable for both you and the other person.
OBSERVE THE CULTURE
Here’s the thing: in some countries people hug all the time, in others it is very rare. For example in Britain, hugging is generally preserved for a close relationship, and not when meeting someone for the first time. However, in many European countries, people are much more open to hugging and kissing cheeks in public. The bottom line is, when going to a new place, research and observation is key.
BE CAREFUL WHEN COMFORTING SOMEONE
Hugs can help people to feel loved, protected and safe, and some people will respond very well if you hug them when they are upset. However, others may prefer to be left alone when they are upset and may find hugging very overwhelming. If you don’t know the person very well, the best thing to do is to ask them if they want a hug. This allows them to control the situation, while still showing them that you care.
LOOK FOR BODY LANGUAGE CUES
If people are willing to receive a hug they sometimes display open body language, such as smiling or leaning towards you. If people are looking quite serious or rigid then this might indicate that they like their personal space. If you go in for a hug and someone doesn’t appear to be into it, quickly stop, apologise and step back. Maybe shake their hand instead, or some other greeting that they seem comfortable with.
IF SOMEONE HUGS YOU AND YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH IT
Try to be polite but firm. They probably didn’t know you don’t like hugs, so there’s no point getting angry or annoyed with them. Regardless, if you’re not comfortable with something you don’t have to do it, so explain politely to them that you don’t want a hug and hopefully they’ll know what to do next time!
What’s your take on hugging? Comment below and meet more vinas to embrace (or not) on Hey! VINA.
(Featured Image courtesy of the Huffington Post)