By Gerod Rody
The handshake is a fixture in the business world, whether establishing new contacts or closing a deal.
Likewise, the pat on the shoulder has been a gesture of professional affirmation for years, though more recently it’s gone out-of-vogue as patronizing. These and other forms of touch are a valuable part of non-verbal business communication, but we at Pinchot believe that there are even deeper ways to engage. Enter the hug.
Scientists agree that touch is an essential human need (especially for the workplace), and while the handshake is nice and all, it doesn’t function in quite the same way as a mutually respectful embrace. According to one researcher, “Hugs have positive impacts on self-esteem, relationships and upon the body’s ability to cope with stress.”
A business hug is the next level of connection, sharing vulnerability and mutual respect in a non-threatening embrace. Not as foreign as the European double-kiss, or as dubious as the “good game” butt pat, the hug is for many a “just right” balance of care and respect. Many at Pinchot count the hug as a key part of their community experience, and something they take with them outside the Pinchot network. Some even cite the hug as a factor in improved confidence, stronger relationships with coworkers and deeper connections in building a solid business network.
Business pros need hugs too!
Here are some appropriate business hug scenarios:
- Your startup was just featured on NPR
- You’re selling a business to a fellow alum
- You’re graduating with your MBA
- You nailed your presentation (or you didn’t!)
- You just got your dream job
While never a requirement, a hug can be a powerful way to connect with partners and colleagues. We make sure that our students know to always keep the hug trump card in their back pocket, should the business-appropriate moment arise.
Gerod Rody is Director of Marketing for Pinchot University.