You have just walked into a party and a man you have met only once earlier at a friend’s place comes rushing with open arms and gives you a hug. It’s meant to be a warm greeting, meant to make you feel welcome but you are left with a feeling of discomfort. It’s like a sudden realization that someone invaded your personal space in front of everyone but you couldn’t do anything about it. You had to accept the hug politely and keep the smile plastered on your face.
The Hello Hug is a comparatively recent entrant in the Indian social scenario where the namaskar or even the handshake was ruling so far.
The Hello Hug has taken over at many social levels from the namaskar but the only issue is many people who are firm believers in the Hello Hug are not even aware of the etiquette involved in this greeting hug. For starters, if you follow the hug etiquette you cannot hug anyone without asking that person’s permission and be aware that you are not intruding into that person’s personal space. It is important to seek permission even if you know the person closely and turning the Hello Hug into a tight hug is a strict no-no.
Are People Misusing The “Hello” Hug In India?
Yes, they are. In the absence of a clear understanding of this hug etiquette, people are most often reaching out for a hug without even bothering to find out if the other person is comfortable with a hug or not. Then the Hello Hug is often used to get perverse pleasure. You wouldn’t be surprised if you hear a men’s washroom conversation that goes like this: “You know I have been aiming for this for a long time. The hug allowed me to feel her.” Followed by perverse laughter, of course.
Men are not spared either. A man confessed, “A lady at a party hugged me twice. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was when she greeted me with a hug but when I was walking out she hugged me and just wouldn’t let go. It was so terribly embarrassing. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there with a sheepish face.”
Related Reading: Expert’s View On 5 Body Language Mistakes Men Make At The Workplace
It’s a great way to get close
In India, there are many men who wouldn’t think twice before getting close in the pretext of greeting you with a hug. “You are supposed to keep a safe distance when you are greeting with a hug. But most often I see my breasts touching a man’s body when he is hugging me. I feel very uncomfortable with this unwanted touch. And then it’s really funny how men, when they become tipsy prolong this greeting hug as if they have come across a long lost friend. I refrain from hugging these days. I extend my arms for a handshake,” said Lalita Kalwani, an IT professional.
Rani Banerjee, who is a school teacher, has a funny incident to relate. “Recently I was at the hospital because my uncle was unwell and there I met my father’s friend who is his age, around 70. I have never seen him before but when my father introduced me to him he tried to hug me. I extended my arms but then the 10 minutes we stood there talking to him he kept trying to hug me saying, ‘Beta it’s so good to meet you.’ I wasn’t comfortable and didn’t allow him to hug me. I feel no matter what the relationship if you are not comfortable with the Hello Hug, do make it very clear.”
There’s no question of asking permission
In India, be it, men or women, they are not at all aware that the first etiquette of a Hello Hug is asking permission from the person you are going to hug. You walk into any high-society club or party and you would see that greeting with a hug is a norm.
No one asks you for permission and some even go on to pass on that peck on the cheek. But is that really cool?
No, it isn’t. And if you are not really comfortable with the physical touch that comes with hugging there are things you could do that would send the right message across.
Here’s What You Should Do To Avoid The Hello Hug
Every culture in the world has a different form of greeting. Like in India it has been the namaskar in Japan it is the very formal bow. In a place like America where people are usually friendly, in a professional space, it is the handshake that rules. Many people feel that they are being impolite if they are refusing the Hello Hug but that is not true. Hugging is a form of greeting that comes with a level of intimacy in a relationship. If you are not comfortable hugging everyone and greeting all at a party or an event then just make that clear. We tell you how you can do that.
1. Body Language
If you decide that hugging is not your thing then stick to that. If you are walking into an event and you are hugging some people and refusing others then it can be confusing for some people who come forward with a hug. So best is to stick to a namaskar or a handshake. Just keep your shoulders straight and extend your hands for a shake even if someone comes with open arms. They will get the message.
2. Avoid the hugger
There are people who would refuse a handshake and even say, “Arrey I am the hugger. I cannot do without a hug.” Keep smiling and mark that person. If someone keeps insisting on a hug when he or she sees you are not at all interested then it doesn’t say much about the person’s intentions. It’s best to avoid that person.
3. The prolonged handshake
This is another menace. There are people who wouldn’t stop holding on to your hand and they would keep talking and shaking your hands not realizing you are actually cringing inside. Just start tapping his hand with your left hand and they would get the message and let go. Try it. This works.
And in case from a handshake, he tries to pull you into a hug just move back a bit.
4. If it’s too late to avoid the hug
Sometimes it happens that you haven’t been swift enough to extend your arms for a handshake or fold it in a namaskar and the hugger has got really close and has almost got you in a hug. Just turn your body sidewise he wouldn’t be able to hug you. Then politely smile and extend your hands for a shake.
5. Keep your arms folded
If it’s someone you know who wants to hug you with the intention of getting close to you then just keep your arms folded across your chest. This is the absolute message that you are loathing a hug with that person. We have seen even then people make an attempt, in that case just keep your shoulders stiff, they would get the drift.
6. The groupie nightmare
If you are taking a groupie having your arms around each other’s shoulders is like a norm these days. Sometimes those arms even drop to your waist and feel your curves. That’s really revolting. People take advantage of a selfie or a groupie to get close to you. Remember! Vidya Balan protested once when a fan got really close for a selfie?
The fact remains if you feel uncomfortable standing next to someone who could slip his hands on your shoulders ensure when clicking a groupie you are standing next to someone you are comfortable with. That way the proximity would not matter.
7. The side hug
You are standing in a group and chatting at a party. Someone says something funny then suddenly the person slips his hands on your shoulder in a gesture of sharing a good laugh or even sharing the camaraderie. Sometimes this is alright since you are with friends who you are close to you but coming from random people this is not expected. Just tap on his hand that’s on your shoulder and move away from him. That would do it.
8. Tell them on their face
This option is always there. Just tell them you are not comfortable with a Hello Hug from the person if all else fails.
Who you want to hug and whether at all you would be open to a greeting hug is your discretion. No one should be able to invade your personal space in the name of a formal greeting.
Have you ever faced a situation where you felt uncomfortable with a Hello hug? How did you deal with it?