Your decision will be influenced by lots of things – including what the norm is in your family, friendship groups or culture. How comfortable you are with hugging is also influenced by your personality and particularly your natural Interaction Style. One aspect of this is whether you tend to either initiate contact with others or respond to their contact.
People who initiate contact tend to set the pace and tone of a conversation. They have a quick use of time – they tend to move quickly, speak quite quickly and move rapidly from one topic to another. More of their energy is focused externally, on the people and things around them, they appear more extraverted, outgoing and expressive. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Bingley in Pride and Prejudice initiate contact with others.
Other people tend to wait for others to initiate contact, then respond. They have a more sustained use of time – they move and speak more slowly and spend more time on topics, going into more depth. More of their energy is focused internally, on their own thoughts and feelings, they appear more introverted, thoughtful and contained. Jane Bennet and Mr Darcy display this behaviour.
Of course, the situation influences how we behave and we always have a choice. But we do have these underlying tendencies/default settings in our personality and they have consequences for the impact we have on others. If you normally respond to contact, but have a strong view about hugging or not, then you need to take the initiative and communicate this to avoid an awkward situation. If you normally initiate contact, you may need to hold back a little to find out what the other person wants to do before going in for a big embrace or a stand-off.
Find out more about these differences between people and what it means for relationships in my book!
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