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Thank you for the hug. I needed that.

I was invited to speak in NYC last week. Great turn out, beautiful venue, hosts were as generous and as genuine as it gets. I walked in while they were setting the place up and the two main folks, smiled, walked over and….you guessed it, came in for a hug. Interestingly, when I first started working with them, hugging was out of the question. Later it became uncomfortable and now…..LET’S GOOOO!

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that every time I go for the hug, whether the person I am hugging is super comfortable or not quite, the people around us have that same look in their eyes. That look of – this is awkward, but I’d love to get one as well kind of a look. My talk was well received, really moving responses but what got me the most, was that guy.

Have you ever been in a situation where you saw something taking place or someone does something and it feels a bit awkward but secretly you wished you were the one doing it? Going to a karaoke bar, watching the person on stage while you are actually thinking – “man, I wish I had the guts to do that as I would love to”. Or on the dance floor watching that guy who dances by themselves. Or seeing someone helps someone else in the middle of the street while thinking you were the one who wanted to do that, but it felt awkward because “what would people think?”.

It’s cringy but I love it.

Have you ever been at a meeting with a client and your boss or a colleague, where for you it was the first time meeting these clients, and you see your boss hugging them as y’all come in and the customer is genuinely happy to see them and thought to yourself….well, that makes me a bit uncomfortable but man, I would love a hug as well?

Why is it so cringy then? And how come we all love it? And if we feel that way, is it possible our clients feel the same?

The great Patch Adams conducted what he called The Hello Experiment. He realized that in order for us “ break through programmed response” we need to change normal parameters and by that, “getting a new emotional response from the person”.

You see, it all starts with a programmed response. We have all been “programmed” by the way we have been brought up, by society, media etc. As social species, we follow social guidelines. For the most part, we do not really look into where it came from, who set these rules or why. We just accept and follow them.

In every environment we are in, there are a certain set of these (usually, non-written) rules we follow. And it is the same thing within corporate America and within our organizations. In certain situations, we respond they way we have been programmed. Most likely, at the end of that client meeting, you will not see people hug it out. And if you do, someone in that room will feel uncomfortable exactly because of those programmed responses. If you understand the impact of Emotional Relevance, you understand that you want to get that “new emotional response” from your client as this way it they will connect you to that emotional experience and will remember you better. Will trust you more. In order to “break through these programmed responses, we need to change our normal parameters.

Most of us, by far(!!!), NEED to feel hugged. Tons of studies on this topic prove we simply NEED (not want) that sense of belonging, that feeling of togetherness. We NEED to FEEL hugged.

Do you make your clients feel hugged?


Hunter "Patch" Adams


So, I finish my speaking engagement in NYC and stick around to mingle a bit. As I am standing there with a group of 5 men, one guy walks over towards us. I turn to him, shake his hand as he thanks me. “Some of the stuff you were talking about, really resonated with me and I think I can even apply it to my personal life”. I thanked him and said he was absolutely right. The essence of Emotional Relevance can absolutely be applied towards our personal lives. He continued by sharing he recently went through a nasty divorce and some of the elements I touched upon will help him in seeing things a bit different. I could tell he was hurting. I then put my hand on his shoulder. On my left, I could see the 5 men noticing there was something emotional going on. It’s like they were all wanting to look but for some odd “programmed response” they were not allowed. I looked the guy in his eyes and shared with him that a couple of years ago I got divorced and I understand how hard and lonely it could get. I offered him to call me and chat whenever he wanted and as he was getting ready to turn back, I leaned forward and gave him a heartfelt hug. That’s right. New York City. Two adult men. In a middle of a room full of other adults. In a corporate environment. Hugging. You could tell the 5 men next to us were now a bit jealous.

About 30 minutes later, I am getting ready to leave and as I am saying my last goodbyes and waking towards the exit, and I see that guy walking towards me. I am thinking he wants to invite me for a speaking engagement or to do some work with his team but in my mind, I am still moved by his moment of openness about half an hour earlier.

He hands me his business card ” Thank you again Alon. Here is my card. Look at it when you can” he says to me and walks away. I look down at his card and there is a handwritten note: “Thank you for the hug. I needed that.”

We ALL need to feel hugged. Do you make your clients feel that way?

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