ASK (YES YES) MARSH: How do I stop my male colleagues from hugging me all time? (VIDEO)

 

I spent years working in the (very man-ful) music and radio industries, so I totally get where this lady is coming from. But when people are well-meaning and just trying to be nice, how do you tell them to get the hell off you – without being aggressive or creating a scene?

This is what we tackle in today’s ASK (YES YES) MARSH. Click play on the video to see my advice.

That AMAZING blog I mention from TryingToBeGood.com, is HERE if you click these words. Highly recommended reading.

The blog I mentioned about asking personal questions is HERE, and the video on how to get out of an awkward conversation, is HERE

Over to you 

Have you ever dealt with a similar situation – from either perspective? Would you suggest something different, or have you tried my suggestions? I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading! If you know someone who has to deal with this kind of stuff, I’d love if you shared this video with them, using one of the round buttons below.

And if YOU have a question you’d like me to answer here – anonymously is totally fine (and currently the standard), drop me a line to marsha@yesyesmarsha.com.

You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS one way I used to be super-awkward with EVERYONE – irrespective of gender – is that I was hopeless at remembering people’s names. Then I learned an amazing (and easy!) trick, and now I’m freakishly good at it. Want me to show you? Sign up below and I’ll send it over!


You’ll also gain access to the Yes Yes Marsha Mailer Family. This gets you FREE weekly email coaching – and tips, stories and secrets that I won’t put on the internet.

Video Credits
Music: “George Square” by the amazing David Berkeley
Mural: painted by the absurdly talented Pam Lostracco

21 Comments

  • dianafreshcoaching

    Reply Reply March 25, 2015

    Hey Marsha,

    This was a really good video, I am spanish and here in Spain sure is the kiss and hug situation. I don’t mind it that much as it’s kind of a cultural thing, but it’s true that sometimes when you are on a business meeting and you just want to make it formal it seems very awkward to get a male to do the kiss-hug dance. So from now on every time I want to set my boundaries I’ll make use of your advice 😉

    Diana
    PS: love the blue mountains background!!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply March 25, 2015

      Thanks, Diana! Do let me know how it goes.

      The mountains – aren’t they BEAUTIFUL!! They were painted by Pam Lostracco. She used just to paint them on greetings cards and calendars, then she started during murals and I commissioned her to paint one in my living room! Her website is:

      Pam Lostracco

      (If you’re interested, she sells a vinyl poster and calendars and some other things in her etsy shop)

  • Lynn Cook

    Reply Reply March 25, 2015

    My thoughts on this question and what I do have changed over the years. When I was a young person I hated people touching me – urgh! And I’ve been through various combinations and permutations of the firm handshake with eye contact, shoulder grasp, cheek kiss etc.

    I think it all goes in cycles, AND is context dependent. For example when I worked in the public service you didn’t touch anyone, you basically held onto your folder and/or notebook at the end of a meeting and bowed slightly to the room. Now I only do social hugging but only with some friends, not all, it really varies from person to person. And my partner, a man, likes doing the footballer hug with some of his male friends, but not all.

    You could almost play at being different world leaders … Obama, Merkel, QEII … fun!

    • Lynn Cook

      Reply Reply March 25, 2015

      Actually google Merkel and Obama and you get some interesting images …

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply March 25, 2015

      Hi Lynn!

      Love your answer. I also cycle through all of the different ones. In general, I’m an ENORMOUSLY tactile person (I met a Yes Yes Marsha fan by the tampon aisle in the pharmacy the other day, and insisted that we hug)(after taking a cue that she was ok with it).

      What I really object to – as with above – is when you’re expected to, just because you’re a lady.

      It WOULD be interesting to see a chart of all the world leaders and what their greetings are! My guess is that our awful David Cameron’s would be a firm but slimey handshake….

  • Sam Clark

    Reply Reply March 26, 2015

    Hi Marsha,

    Sam here – I work in travel in Asia and we have these ultra awkward situations where Thai ladies visiting our office or meeting us again feel they are supposed to kiss as that seems to be what people do. They hate it, they’re not very good at it and you get these ultra awkward situations. The whole thing is ridiculous, we find it awkward and you can see that the Thai’s in particular (not a country where touchy feelyness between strangers is encouraged at all) absolutely hate it. We’ve banned it from our office, but you can see it happening at any travel event and it is awkward even if you are not involved. I’m sure you’ve seen the same when out visiting Mark…

    The whole kissing in business things is intensely disliked by many men too. So awkward and totally unnecessary. You just don’t want to be seen as the awkward non sophisticated one who coldly insists on a handshake when everyone else is kissing. As we’re British it all comes down to class I think rather more than patriarchy – it’s about showing how sophisticated and metropolitan and posh you are.

    Quite apart from people not liking it, it just creates all kind of awkwardness (again – a British speciality): one kiss or two? The northern kiss and clutch, the southern mwah mwah – then Europeans dive in for 3. For a permanently embarrassed Brit like myself, it’s just a minefield.

    Inspired by your post, I’ll hold out my hand firmly in future at all business related events.

    On another note – my wife was in a room in Wales when David Cameron and Barack Obama both came in. She said that Obama said “Bore da” and worked the room looking super cool and everyone gushed – but Cameron’s ‘Bore da’ sounded awkward and contrived and was met with rolling eyes and awkwardness!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply March 26, 2015

      Sam, oh my goodness, what amazing stories!
      You’re SO RIGHT about that even if you are a kisser it’s a minefield! French is two, but Russian is three – so often, when someone is going for two, I automatically go for a third and then it’s weird. I do think leading the charge is the answer.

      WELL DONE for banning kissing from your office!!

      And i LOVE that story of Barack and horrid Cameron!! Doesn’t surprise me at all. I bet you could hear “..you lovely Welshies” on the end of Obama’s “Bore da”, and on the end of Cameron’s, “..you plebs that I don’t understand..”

      As I said, it’s all about the physicality, and Obama has that warmth nailed down! xxx

  • Soooo good as always. I actually get this situation a lot with women too as I’m very much not a touchy person and a lot of the people I hang out with are. I always figured that it was going to be a little awkward anyway (b/c people can feel it when you’re stiff in a hug and then they feel weird, and you just get a weirdness spiral), so putting up those physical “Actually, no it’s not cool if we hug right now” signs was the lesser of two evils. Lovely to have it confirmed 🙂

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply March 26, 2015

      Rachel, you’re SO right about a stiff hug being worse!! Well done for following your instincts – and it’s really true that NO ONE dwells on it if you act very confidently. Nice work!

  • S

    Reply Reply March 27, 2015

    Hi Marsha – some good advice up there that I think works generally in a lot of work situations, though I’ve found there are always exceptions to the rule. I’ve had this situation happen so many times (I spent many years working in a very male dominated industry – mining – and within that industry, in an also notoriously male-dominated speciality – IT) and have used the techniques you describe in your video, usually with success. Memorably though, there have been a few instances that proved incredibly awkward and embarrassing exceptions to the rule.

    The one I remember best was the last day of an important company conference with representatives from about many different countries meeting in London, UK. At this conference, I was already an obvious anomaly, being the only woman, younger than everyone else by 10 years (in some cases, 20 and 30 years younger), and one of the only visible minorities — so to say that I didn’t want any more of the social spotlight would be putting it mildly! 🙂 Anyway, one of the attendees had to catch an earlier plane than the rest of us, so he walked around to each of the 30 seated attendees to shake their hands and say goodbye. I was the second last person he approached, so he’d shaken 28 (male) hands without incident, and was headed toward me. Anticipating this, I turned my body slightly and had my hand out ready to shake his but he took one quizzical look at it and protested loudly to the watching room “What is this?!” and leaned over to try to do the ol’ kiss-and-hug. Instead, I grabbed his hand and tried to shake it and say “Safe flight” with a big smile before turning my body toward the conference table in front of me and away from him, to his rather obvious surprise (and nervous laughter from a few of the other attendees witnessing the scene). Next thing I know, I’d essentially become an actress in an impromptu re-enactment of the infamous George W Bush / Angela Merkel scene (http://www.spiegel.de/international/bush-s-massage-gate-rubbing-the-chancellor-s-neck-and-getting-an-earful-a-428852.html), as I felt his hands on my shoulders. I was not entirely successful at hiding the involuntary shrug-and-shudder, judging from the faces and laughter of the other attendees! I guess at least I got an anecdote out of it! 🙂

    It’s probably not the most common scenario, but I’m wondering if you have any advice for how to gracefully deal with this when you’re in a seated position (and not able to get up due to furniture placement, crowds, etc)?

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply March 30, 2015

      S – UGH! So sorry you had to deal with that! My GOODNESS. I guess no advice can help you de-jerk a jerk, but it sounds like you handled it beautifully, given the circumstances.

      Re sitting: I would advice holding up a hand that (verging on affectionately) will rest on their shoulder or thereabouts, then grabbing their aiming-for-a-hug hand with your other.
      Again, it may seem like a surprise to them, it may create “a moment”. But if you do it with warmth and confidence, and then move on quickly (Maybe even with a cheery, “Nice to see you!” or “Have a safe trip!”), then will be bamboozled into thinking that NOTHING ODD HAS OCCURRED and will move on too.

      Hope that’s helpful!

      • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

        Marsha Shandur

        Reply Reply March 30, 2015

        ps JEEBERS! I totally missed that Bush and Merkel thing! UGH! As if I couldn’t like him any less. Ugh ugh ugh.
        (always happy for more reasons not to like him, though!)

        • S

          Reply Reply April 7, 2015

          Thanks for that suggestion re: holding up a hand and putting it on the person’s shoulder, Marsha! I will certainly give that a try if/when the situation arises again!

  • lynww

    Reply Reply March 28, 2015

    Very interesting, Mash. I had a couple of friends who wanted to start a campaign for more hugging and I said ‘NOOOOOO, I only hug people I really like/love/feel emotionally linked to, and I don’t want to be undiscriminating.’ Hugging means something to me, so it’s a currency I won’t squander, and I won’t use it in professional situations, unless I have come to have a warm feeling for people, like, for example, making a film, or doing Tai Chi together for years. Doing Tai Chi for a long time has made me quite sensitive to people’s vibes, so there are some people whose tension and negativity I definitely don’t want to pick up. And while teaching Tai Chi, if I there is a new person who feels tense, I always ask if it’s ok for me to touch them when I’m correcting their position.
    I think your advice is good: no-one should feel they have to be squished up by someone else’s energy field unless they want to.
    xxx
    Lyn

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply March 30, 2015

      I totally agree on hugging being important currency only for beloveds – AND on not wanting to pick up on negative vibes from hugging those you don’t want to hug! Thanks, Lyn!

  • Becky

    Reply Reply April 4, 2015

    Marsha….I adore you.
    #1. This tip is great! I can be politely described as “assertive”. I don’t mean to be but…I just am. I have always wanted to be the classy dame that can handle a gross situation with aplomb without going “too far”. Which is always the EXACT advice that you give. Love it. LOVE it.
    #2 I bought the mountains poster based on your recommendation and I love your wall SO MUCH. Someday, I’m going to get me a mountain wall, too.
    Thanks again!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply April 4, 2015

      Becky! So much that I love about this comment!! So glad this falls under “classy dame” category.

      And YAY to you having the mountains poster! Aren’t they just so pretty? And I have her doing a different kind of mountain mural in my bathroom now, I’ll keep you posted 🙂
      (If anyone else is reading this and curious, we’re talking about Pam Lostracco‘s beautiful murals!)

  • Kitzi

    Reply Reply July 31, 2017

    I’ll try this today!!! It seems scary haha but i will try it ^_^

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