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Hug Or Handshake?
The Creative Group Survey Shows Most Executives Don't Embrace Business Hugs

MENLO PARK, Calif., Feb. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Have you hugged a coworker today? According to a recent survey by The Creative Group, three in 10 advertising and marketing executives said hugging colleagues is at least somewhat common in the United States, and nearly one-quarter (24 percent) said it's not out of the ordinary to greet clients that way. But many frown upon the practice: seven in 10 executives interviewed said embracing coworkers in a business setting is inappropriate; 76 percent said they rarely, if ever, hug clients or business contacts.

The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "In general, how common is it for you to greet the following individuals with a hug instead of a handshake in the United States?" Their responses:


Business Contact

Very common if you know the individual well or it has been a while since you have seen him/her   

7% 3%

Somewhat common if you know the individual well or it has been a while since you have seen him/her      

23% 21%

Not common at all; hugging is rarely appropriate in a business setting       

57% 61%
Never; hugging is not appropriate in a business setting        13% 15%
  100% 100%

The survey suggests that embracing colleagues may be more prevalent at advertising agencies versus corporate marketing environments: 48 percent of advertising agency executives said it is somewhat or very common to hug coworkers, versus 29 percent of their corporate marketing counterparts. And 41 percent of advertising executives said they embrace clients or business contacts, versus 24 percent of marketing executives.

"When it comes to business greetings, it's important to read your audience and the environment well," said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. "It's always best to err on the formal side to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable."

The Creative Group offers four tips for greeting business contacts with grace:

  1. Make the first move. To avoid awkwardness, extend your hand first -- that way it will be clear which type of greeting is most comfortable.
  2. Clue into customs. If you're working with international contacts, be familiar with their traditional greetings, whether it's bowing, cheek kissing or shaking hands.
  3. Start with those less familiar to you. If you're meeting with a group of people, introduce yourself to new contacts with a handshake before greeting long-term professional colleagues who you know like to hug.
  4. When it doubt, play it safe. A firm, three-second handshake, accompanied by a warm smile and good eye contact, communicates confidence and friendliness in most situations.

About the Survey
The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 500 telephone interviews -- approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.

About The Creative Group
The Creative Group specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group's award-winning career magazine, can be found at

SOURCE The Creative Group