To hug or not to hug…


I’m often surprised and pleased by the number of people that hug me the first time I ever meet them; some people even hug me as soon as we’re introduced.  I don’t know why this happens although I must say I’m pleased it does.  In my opinion, hugging shows you feel close to other people in a non-threatening & not too intimate way & it feels nice.  Others in the Learning Pool team have been known to push me forward when there’s hugging to be done.

I’m in Scotland this weekend taking a couple of days out after a busy month of getting Learning Pool’s new Glasgow office up & running.  Dave, Breda & I hosted a breakfast briefing in Edinburgh on Thursday at which one of Learning Pool’s non execs, Donald Clark was speaking.  Donald is pretty much always controversial (read his blog at to see for yourself if you don’t believe me), especially when he’s talking to people that train others using traditional means – and he didn’t disappoint on Thursday.  At the end of the morning, I could see Sheila Fleetwood (pictured with me above) making a bee-line for me.  She’d been engaging in some lively banter with Donald over the course of his session & I must admit I thought for one second she was coming over to give me a slap.  Instead, to my delight, she hugged me & thanked me for such an interesting & thought provoking morning.  Phew!

A couple of months ago, Dave & I were in Exeter for Likeminds (gosh – was that really February?) and we had a fab night out with some of our local guvvie pals we don’t see anywhere near often enough.  That night I had a great conversation with Martin Howitt & Bill Wells about hugging and how much we like to do it.  The three of us decided that one of the measures of how well Learning Pool is doing could be the number of customer hugs I receive every month – admittedly a rather unusual business metric.  So far it seems to work.

Next week is the company’s annual birthday bash (hard to believe but we’re 4 years old) – we’re having a party on HMS President & I expect to get a lot of hugs that day – tell you what – I’ll count them & post the number back up here as a comment next week.

Conclusion – hugging is good with your business associates – keep doing it & keep those hugs coming for me!



  1. Mary,I couldn’t agree more, I’m a hugger and I love a hug, being a naturally tactile person. I distinctly remember getting a great hug from you last week after showcase!Keep spreading the love!Jacqueline


  2. After some years of not meeting new people often in the course of my work, I’ve been a little non-plussed to find so many people greet with hugs and kisses these days. I find myself getting a little anxious about whether I should be aiming as someone approaches to:1) just smile & slightly nod from about 4 ft away; 2) shake hands (and that moment of trying to assess of how lightly/firmly to grip!);3) handshake-hold + brief peck on right cheek but minimal body contact otherwise;4) handshake-hold + brief peck on each cheek but minimal body contact otherwise;5) half hug with air kiss;6) half hug with single peck;7) half hug with double peck;8) full brief hug (and the issue of which hold to use) with air kiss;9) full brief hug (and the issue of which hold to use) with peck on cheek;10) full extended hug with no kiss;11) fullextended hug with initial air kisses;12) full extended hug with single peck;13) full extended hug with double peck;14) continental variation on all above handshakes or hugs variations but with the dreaded triple peck!Business ettiquette is so complex these days…think I need a spreadsheet of these to help me…


  3. I love hugs! For me, it’s just something I always do-it doesn’t occur to me not to do it! I love people, so it’s just a natural reaction for me.


  4. The 1st time we met f2f after talking on Twitter u greeted me with an enormous hug & have done so ever since! I work with several people who would not appreciate a hug, so it is gr8 to meet people who are! I even managed a hug from Paul at the last steering Grp, is this an achievement or what?!!?


  5. Its a HUGTASTIC idea Mary! Thanks for the shoutout on Twitter. I only saw it now. Its funny that after I saw your post, I started thinking about the hugs I give and receive. It certainly its a sign that things are well and its good for the heart and our stressed filled lives too! Check it out, an excerpt from an article I found on the “The Science of Hugs”“Scientists have also been able to show quite clearly that hugging and cuddling can reduce heart disease, cut down stress and promote longevity. How is this so? Embracing releases oxytocin, more commonly referred to as the “cuddle horomone.” This chemical is linked to all sorts of heart-healthy benefits. Significant results are seen after ten minutes of warm, supportive touching. This might be one reason why couples generally have better heart health than singles.”So with that said… I say when you get to hug someone, hang on to them for dear life! LOL ;-)Great article and observation Mary. I hope you’re well. And keep being your hugtastic-self!Much hugs and love for huggy bears… Liz xxx


  6. I love Janet’s list of business greeting styles – and there’s another one to add which I found myself doing at a conference last week – shaking hands with the right hand and grabbing onto their elbow with the left. I *think* this means “I don’t suppose a hug is out of the question? Oh well”…Liz’s point about oxytocin might mean that hugging can increase sales as well as having positive health benefits – one reason for Learning Pool’s success, surely!One thing I can confirm is that both Mary and Liz are world class huggers. I think it ought to be taught in schools because some people just haven’t got it….I’m not a man of loose virtue and generally have to have had at least one interaction with someone before I’m prepared to hug them. But you have to be sensitive to what they are comfortable with. For some reason women are more tactile than men, at least on the surface – but I have male friends that always get a hug as well. I’m quite relaxed about it but not everyone is, so let’s all be careful out there 🙂


  7. Thanks for all the comments everyone – especially the men! Think we’ll keep on hugging for now – especially as Liz has given us a scientific reason to…


  8. Love this blog Mary. When I bumped into the fab Lyra McKee during a trip to Belfast at the weekend she greeted me with a lovely hug – Sharing the LP Love – on the back of our next t-shirt I think!


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