Excerpt from The Touch Crisis:
“Hi there! Nice to see you!” I exclaimed cheerfully, as I walked toward a fellow businesswoman on my way back to my wellness center. It was a sunny winter day in Minnesota and we were both in our warm jackets and hats, the fog from our breath drifting lazily upward.
“Dawn, I would like to talk with you.” Her normally bright voice sounded a bit serious, and I paused to give her the proper space to voice whatever was on her mind.
I nodded affirmatively, as I sipped coffee from the warm cup I’d just picked up from the café down the street. I wonder what’s wrong.
“Well, I was at the award ceremony a few weeks ago,” she started.
Immediately, I felt my whole body warm at the memory and a large smile overtook my face. The business I’d grown from scratch had been given the “Service Business of the Year” award by the Chamber of Commerce.
“I thought you behaved unprofessionally, hugging everyone at that event.” Her voice was matter-of-fact and empty of any emotion.
What? I felt my heart drop as confusion overwhelmed me and my face flushed with heat.
“The way you hugged people was completely inappropriate,” she scolded.
My mind quickly retrieved the vivid memory of that evening in the decorated casino ballroom, recalling how elated I was—how surprised and honored that enough people felt connected to and nurtured by my staff and myself that they voted for us. I had bounced around the full tables of professionals on my way to the stage to accept the award and thank everyone, thinking Grammy winners couldn’t have been more excited.
After my gushing yet short speech, I’d floated off the stage in a cloud of pride and love, making eye contact with those I knew and hugging at least fifteen of my friends on the way back to my seat, consciously restraining myself to not hug everyone I knew. When I’d settled back in at my table, I’d given hugs to my two staff members seated next to me.
She interrupted my thoughts again, “I’m just trying to help you understand that is no way to act in a business setting.”
What is she talking about? Is it really offensive to hug people I know in a moment like that? Is she right? Did I offend people? Should I not be hugging people in these settings—ever? I felt my body start retreating into numbness as the impact of her words set in.