Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The Hugging Man

Gather round, boys and girls! I had an awkward experience today, and I’m going to recount it for your reading pleasure. I had a meeting with a potential new vendor at work today. At first, I was pleased. The guy obviously knew what he was talking about, I knew his company by reputation, and his pricing and delivery time was reasonable. Then, at the end of the meeting, when I extended my arm to shake his hand, he hugged me. No, you don’t have to reread that sentence. He hugged me.

I don’t mean one of those semi-acceptable macho guy hugs where you shake hands with one arm and loosely throw the other around the guy’s back (and even these are only acceptable if you haven’t seen the other guy in a while, or you’ve been drinking, preferably both.) I mean a full, two-armed hug. He wasn’t shy about holding on for a while, either. That, my friends, is what you call a “deal breaker.”

I truly didn’t know how to respond to the situation. For anyone who knows me, it’s rare that I’m at a loss for words. This was one of those times. Regardless of gender, I would never, ever hug anyone at the end of a business meeting. Even if it were my grandmother who was presenting a proposal to me, and she had brought me pie, the end result would be a handshake. So when this guy, who I knew only ever so slightly, embraced me at the end of the meeting, I was blown away. I know he has been in this line of business with the same company for many years. Does he normally end meeting this way? If so, what exactly is his quote-to-close ratio? (There’s a joke in there somewhere…I just can’t find it.)

The semi-acceptable macho guy hug you referenced is formally known as the "Thug Hug." And also, here in Italy....they throw in a kiss on each cheek for good measure. Can't wait to see you next month. Be warned, I will hug.
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