Is it OK to hug a co-worker? To borrow a phrase from Facebook, it’s complicated.
This week we wrote about how a hug among colleagues or clients can often go awry, turning into a situation that is awkward at best and offensive at worst.
But despite the potential for mishap, even etiquette experts said hugging a co-worker is sometimes acceptable and even welcome.
Our readers appeared to agree.
More than one-third of the nearly 20,000 people who took our poll said they do hug at work, and more than one-third said they occasionally have been known to do so.
Many huggers defended the practice.
“Let's not get so PC that we can't be human beings with feelings,” one reader wrote.
Others recounted the unexpected, but not necessarily unwelcome, workplace hugs they have received.
“I never thought I would be hugged by someone for fixing their laptop but now I can say I have,” one reader wrote.
About a quarter of those who voted said they never hug at work, and some said they don’t like it when others do, either. Some said they have health issues and sensitivities that make hugging uncomfortable. Others just said they find it physically awkward.
“No. I'm short and my face usually winds up in your armpit area or I have to stand on tiptoes. It makes me feel like a child - an angry child,” one reader wrote.
Others said they prefer not to blur the lines between work and friendship.
“Completely inappropriate. Why would you go around hugging people you may have to fire at some point in the future?” one reader wondered.
On our Today Money Facebook page, several readers shared their stories of the accidental office hug. One reader recalled the time she was interviewing for her dream job and became so overwhelmed at her chance of landing it that she hugged the interviewer.
It didn’t go over well.
“If looks could kill, I would have been as dead as was my chance of ever working there,” she lamented.
Another recalled a time when he ran into another colleague a moment after he realized he had forgotten to zip his fly. He had leaned over a drinking fountain to attempt to zip up surreptitiously.
“I was so flustered since I was in the process of drinking water and zipping my pants that I just turned and hugged her,” he wrote of the embarrassing incident.
On our main msnbc.com Facebook page, a reader shared the real-time “should I or shouldn’t I” conundrum many of us have faced when considering whether to hug a co-worker.
“Encountered this yesterday, wanted to, just to share authentic genuine affection and congratulations for a sincere job well done - but for a moment held back because did not want to make the moment awkward, which ended up making the moment awkward. Funny how things turn out like that,” the reader wrote.
On the TODAY show Thursday, Donny Deutsch and Dr. Nancy Snyderman demonstrated how you should, and definitely should not, hug at work. Watch the hilarious results in the video above.