I am more awkward than you. You probably feel like you are awkward, but you don’t have 5,000 witnesses to something awkward you did two weeks ago.
I was speaking at the Orange Conference in Atlanta. A guy named Reggie Joiner puts it on with his team at Rethink. They’re a bunch of geniuses, and you should check out what they do.
Reggie interviewed me from stage which was awesome because Andy Stanley spoke right before me. And one of the first rules of public speaking is “never follow Andy Stanley.”
The interview was a blast. We talked about the role leaders need to play with social media. When it was all done, I stood up from a chair I had been desperately trying not to fall off, and then made a decision:
Reggie, however, made the opposite decision at the exact same time.
He leaned in for a hug.
I leaned in for a handshake.
5,000 people then proceeded to witness my handshake-hug trainwreck. I was already in motion and couldn’t morph the handshake into a hug fast enough, as if I was doing some sort of breakdance wave move. I think I shook his left hand with my right hand and then wrapped my left arm around his neck somehow. There might have even been a leg involved. It’s all a blur.
I was cool with hugging Reggie. Despite making billions of dollars off the phrase “Side Hug,” I’m not opposed to the front hug. I just don’t assume it. So I came up with a system. When I greet people, as I lean in, I say out loud, “Are we hug level? I think so?”
And then they go, “Of course,” and we proceed to hug. But I couldn’t say that on-stage in the Gwinett Arena. I had a mic on. Can we rock? What’s up doc? Who am I, Shaq and the Fu-Schnickesn? It would have been weird.
Whole thing was my fault. Reggie handled it like a pro, though. I don’t even think I saw him give an assistant a secret signal that said, “Don’t invite this hand shaker back next year.” At least there weren’t 40-foot tall video screens and HD cameras to capture the whole thing. That would have been embarrassing.
I promise if you and I ever meet, I’ll shake your hand, unless you blurt out “are we hug level?” Cause then I’ll say, “Of course,” and we’ll hug.
Do you assume hug or assume handshake when you greet someone?