Much like a handshake, I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.
Think about it, taking the handshake first.
I know I’m not the only one who judges a limp wrist versus a firm grip. Too loose makes me wonder why you bothered to take my hand in the first place. But too firm crushes my fingers, and makes me think that you feel you have something to prove.
And the lingering handshake? Oof. That’s just uncomfortable all around.
Then there’s the hug.
It can be tricky, I’ll grant you, if you’re unsure where you stand with a person.
Do you even go for the hug in the first place?
Do you do that one-arm hug where you’re kind of standing side by side, and you’re not sure how close you are/want to get?
Both of those say, I’m feeling a little bit awkward and uncomfortable here, and I don’t know where we stand, but I know we’re close enough to go for more than a handshake.
Or what about the hug and cheek kiss combo? If you initiate, it either says I’m a little bit old school or I’m trying too hard to be European when I’m not, depending on the rest of your demeanor. I don’t think I need to say that one is preferable to the other.
You have the all-over weak hugs, where you’re just going through the motions. But it’s pretty much the equivalent of the limp wrist handshake. You wonder why you bothered in the first place.
But then, with the right people, you have those big, squeezing bear hugs, that make you feel safe and enveloped. And that say “I’m so glad to see you,” without having to actually say anything at all.
Those are the most telling – and the very best kind.