“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth”. – Virginia Satir, therapist

What has hugging got to do with business and leadership? More than you think.

Emotionally healthy people and organizations create excellent results for themselves, their society and the world. Raising emotional health levels around the globe will help us create a world that thrives for coming generations. To achieve that, all of us need to connect more to our hearts and our feelings – to grow our heart energy – and create genuine connections with other people. And mindful hugging, which is very sincere and genuine, can help us do that … even in business.

There are so many positive benefits of mindful hugging:

  • It is a great way to simultaneously increase both your own emotional health and that of others. It keeps us ‘above the line’.
  • It increases your chances of success: Daniel Goleman has shown that a person’s level of emotional intelligence, which is part of emotional health, has a much higher impact on success than their mental intelligence – by as much as 86 per cent in leadership positions.
  • Mindful hugging creates compassion and understanding by creating genuine connections between people.
  • It is one of the best tools for creating powerful collaboration within a team, creating high performing and healthy cultures, solving and preventing conflict, strengthening social relations, increasing motivation, self-esteem and trust, and combating stress and depression. And so on.
  • A hug is a direct injection of compassion into our hearts. No words are needed.
  • “Embrace your enemy – and he will become your friend!”. Sometimes, a hug is all we need.
  • Hugging doesn’t discriminate. It is for everybody, no matter their level at work or in society. No one deserves a hug more or less than anyone else.

Society has a lot of varied attitudes about where and when it is okay to hug. But these are just preconceptions created by our way of thinking and influenced by our culture, religion and the social environment. Some also say that hugs are not necessary for academic or professional success, though given all the advantages of mindful hugging I would have to disagree.

None of these points should be excuses for not hugging. We won’t build emotional health just by thinking about it.

How to hug mindfully

A sincere, genuine mindful hug is a hug with the intention of connecting to and understanding the other person. It is deep, warm and soft.

Stand facing each other, both holding your right hands over your own hearts. Look each other in the eyes then embrace each other left ear to left ear, gently connecting heart to heart with the upper body (chest). Take at least three deep breaths until both your bodies relax. To exit the hug, let go and take one little step back. Look each other in the eyes again as a way of saying thank you.

My husband and I have had mindful hugging as a part of our daily routine for many years. We call these hugs ‘weaving hearts’ or ‘super hugs’. They are amazing and energizing.

It is important to distinguish between a sincere and a fake hug.

Hugs can be fake and artificial. For instance, a rigid and awkward hug is one in which one person’s arms go around the other person but touch as little as possible, without any pressure. Uncomfortable huggers often pat each other on the back, disclosing discomfort with the closeness and making a signal to stop. An insincere hug could also be a hug with bad intentions, such as using your power to disrespect the other person’s boundaries or as a sexual approach. Such hugs are often hard and tight with the whole body.

Fake hugs have none of the benefits I outlined earlier and should be avoided.

I encourage you to create different mindful hugging routines, both privately and professionally. Make mindful hugging a habit. It will be beneficial for you as the giver as well as for the receiver. And it is contagious.

You can almost always sense whether it is okay to hug or not, but if not, just ask.

Let’s start a hugging culture

So, are you going to stay on the sidelines, or are you going to be part of something bigger? Let’s create a hugging culture around the world. Let’s create the intention to hug more often.

To embrace one another with our whole hearts is perhaps the greatest act of recognition and appreciation there is. To do so in more than words is the ultimate gift of our shared humanity. And yet despite this awareness — or perhaps precisely because of it; because of its enormity — we rarely give each other this gift”. – Albert Camus, Nobel Prize winner

Warm hugs,

Do you hug? How many hugs a day do you get? How many do you want? How many are you giving? Do you avoid hugging? Do you love hugging? Let us know your thoughts around hugging.