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How to hug like President Obama

The Sopranos was the most financially successful cable TV series in history.

Are hugs the new handshakes? Through the decade of the 2000s, in workplaces around the world, people have been shaking hands less and hugging more. Experts base this trend on multiple factors, including the seminal mobster TV series The Sopranos, the cultural influence of hip-hop and sports, and the global recession.

Hugs are increasingly common especially in more casual workplaces employing more young people. They’re also key to the new U.S. White House etiquette, as President Obama is a famous dispenser of hugs.

Hugs are Good for Your Health

And who doesn’t like a good hug? Medical science shows that hugs lower blood pressure and heart rate and increase circulation, and are even used as a form of physical therapy. The benefits extend from body to mind. Hugs create feelings of acceptance and compassion, causing us to become more relaxed and happier.

There are Different Hugs for Different Situations

Here’s your how-to guide for the new hug protocol:

  • The Full Frontal: The bear hug, a heart-to-heart embrace. It’s reserved only for parents, children, and close friends. Give full body contact and a firm squeeze.
  • The Ass-Out Hug: Your standard workplace hug. It’s good for the office, and also useful for bad first dates. Touch at the shoulders, but do not touch below that.
  • The Man Hug: A masculine shake-and-squeeze combo. It’s favored by President Obama and demonstrated in the photo at right. Shake with your right hand and hug with your left, then give two slaps on the back.

For how to shake hands like President Clinton, click here.

While I am a registered Democrat, this is a non-partisan blog, so I thank blog reader Richard Lai for sending me this eye-opening photo sequence from the U.K. Daily Mail on “how to chest-bump like President George Bush, Jr.” Click on the photos for more.

Comments in English and Chinese are welcome, on the Chinese version of this blog post, which is here.

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The world is shifting radically. Global Rencai is an advice blog on the new rules of the game. Global Rencai is pronounced “global ren-tsai” and means “global talent” in Chinglish. Its author, Joy Chen (陈愉), is a Chinese-American former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles turned global corporate headhunter. To subscribe to the blog, enter your email address at www.globalrencai.com.