The above picture is hilarious because it's so awkward. Prime Minister Narendra Modi loves hugging. Trump, not so much. It's pretty obvious. Trump isn't the only world leader to have been on the receiving end of a Modi embrace:

Now, I can talk all day about why people shouldn't hug the unwilling but sometime's it's going to happen. Some huggers cannot imagine why on earth everyone is not a hugger. It's like dog people who insist that it's adorable when their dog jumps up on you, practically knocking you over and getting doggy drool on your dry-clean-only pants. They just don't get it.

So, how do you avoid the painfully awkward hug? Well, sometimes you can't. The first trick is to extend a hand for a handshake, but Trump tried this and Modi went in for the hug anyway. Huggers gonna hug. And Trump was smart to not jump out of the way--he's on camera. You're not on camera most of the time, so you can react differently than Trump did. Here's what I do to avoid unwanted hugs.

Step 1: Make your hug hatred known

In the workplace, you often know who the huggers are before you get hugged. So, be up front and ridiculously loud about how much you dislike hugs. "Oh, I'm not a hugger!" and "I'm a handshake kind of a person!" This can often be enough to avoid the casual huggers, although huggers like Modi are a bit harder.

Step 2: Offer a hand

Trump did try this. (And in fairness, he's pretty well-made step 1 known as well.) Putting your hand out and taking a step backward can often end the hug before it starts.

Step 3: Don't hug back

A hug requires a reciprocation. Keep your hands by your side. It makes the awkwardness obvious, and it should make the hugger feel that awkwardness. The problem is that a hugger is counting on you reciprocating to avoid the awkwardness. Don't give in.

Step 4: Remind the person that you are not a hugger

"Sorry! I'm not a hugger!" you say while you are stepping back. In the future, if the same hugger tries to hug you, you can take more drastic steps, like saying "Stop!" loudly and putting your hands up, although that is not generally necessary, as most huggers are just trying to be nice and don't want to make people uncomfortable.

Isn't this sexual harassment?

Unwanted hugs could be seen as sexual harassment, according to the 9th circuit court, but a single hug isn't going to fall under that all by itself. Clearly, Modi isn't sexually harassing any other world leader. However, if you've asked someone to stop hugging you and they keep hugging, you can definitely report it to HR. And if they don't follow up and if it doesn't stop after you've requested it or if you receive any backlash (you're not a team player if you don't join in the hugging!), then that is inappropriate.

Huggers, please stop hugging those who don't want to be hugged. Shaking hands won't kill you, I promise.

Published on: Jun 28, 2017