Nearly as awesome as hugging is talking about hugging.
This FridayClientStory is about an organization full of huggers who wanted to acknowledge the great work they accomplished last year, and re-energize and recommit to keep at it in the new one.
Pace University's Career Services department in Pleasantville, NY is familiar ground. I spent a good amount of time there during my undergraduate years, and so it was an honor to return last December to thank them in person for how much they helped shape my early career.
The topic of the day was the icing on an already tasty cake.
For their holiday party, Executive Director Phyllis Mooney wanted her 30-person staff to feel good about the work they are doing, that they are changing lives every day.
They are. Some students who enter their offices have tough stories. They bring with them pressure from their families, pressure about money and doing well, pressure on their confidence from being in a college environment for the first time or after being in military combat.
These career counselors see it and hear it all, and some become extended family. One of the stories told during the party was about a young woman bringing her mother who was visiting from China into the office so that she could meet the counselor who had been such an instrumental presence in her life.
Our goal for the speech was clear -- create a space for the group to relax together, and feel heard.What better way to do that than with hugging!
In describing the inspiration for my Hug Tour, I told the group one the most important aspects: a great hug doesn't have to involve physical touch.
It can, and that feels fantastic. I received many awesome hugs that day. The room was filled with generous, heart-felt kindness and love. But it's more than that.
A great hug starts five to 30 seconds before when you see someone you care about, and want to show them how much they mean to you.
The hug, thoughtful compliment, grabbing their hand -- the gesture -- takes care of itself after that. The thought you put in before is what makes all of the difference, for you to act meaningfully and for the person to receive it fully.
As the group gathered in a circle together, the counselors spoke about how they hug students by listening to their stories, and helping them navigate difficult career decisions and enter the real world. Then they hugged each another, offerings compliments on the great work they witnessed around the office throughout the year.
In the pauses between comments and stories were genuine smiles. You could feel a closeness in the room that day.
Afterwards, the executive director offered this testimonial:
Introduce Lauree to your team and let her teach them how to “hug” your customers. She’ll lead them through a discussion about the kinds of “hugs” you can deploy in your business, and why they are so effective in retaining business and promoting brand. No power point presentations, flow charts or training videos in her sessions. It’s simply 90 minutes of glorious hug hunting!
Showing people you care about that you care is possible everywhere. This incredible staff is proof of that.
Happy Friday Hugging, everyone!