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Hugging is not personal, it's business Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proved it is.

By Tripti Narain

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Modi's penchant for bear hugs has made international headlines time and again. From hugging Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg during his US trip, reprising his embrace with President Barack Obama in New York to enveloping the crown prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in August, Modi has amply displayed his liking for hugs. Other top leaders of the world who have experienced 'the Modi hug' are Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

And he has done it again! French president Francois Hollande who is in the country to attend the Republic Day celebrations this year has experienced Narendra Modi's warm embrace -- albeit an awkward one -- during their visit to the Rock Garden in Chandigarh.

Firm handshakes are passé, warm embraces are quite in. And it's not without reason that Modi is a fan of bear hugs. There are plenty of reasons why we should embrace the act of, well, embracing someone. Here are a few of them:

Hugs are a natural stress-relievers. Embracing reduces the stress hormone cortisol produced in our bodies. In effect, our bodies release tension and send calming messages to the brain.

Hugging becomes increasingly important with age. Studies have shown that old age-related loneliness can also increase stress and have adverse health effects. By hugging someone, we instantly feel closer to that person and decrease feelings of loneliness. Hugging is good for the heart too.

So, the next time when you meet someone even in a business setup, hug him, you will instantly generate good vibes and they will look at you like a part of the team or family.

There are various ways of greeting people the world over. Some people shake hands, some kiss and hug. Others just say hello. There are various cultural norms to show respect or greet. Let us see how people greet one another in different countries (some are very quirky!)

In Tibet, people stick their tongue out to greet! Eskimo kissing in Greenland - they place their nose and top lip on the cheek or forehead of the person being kissed and breathe in. Rhythmic clapping is considered to be polite greeting in South Africa. Clapping and gently squeezing thumb is the way people in Zambia greet each other. And famously, in France, people do the typical kiss on cheek when meeting. So why not hug?

Of course, you don't want to seem intrusive if you hug too soon, but you also don't want to appear formal if you offer a handshake when a hug is expected. In spite of these caveats, there is immense power in physical contact. Hugging is increasingly becoming a global way of greeting and that is a great new introduction to business meetings across the world.

Well, hugging or handshake? It is a tricky etiquette question in business exchanges even today. What do you think? Drop us a comment on our FB page.

Tripti Narain

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Media (India)

A Digital enthusiast, news specialist, entertainment junkie, unsolicited opinion giver, bona fide foodie and a Delhi lover. Join me @TriptiAbhishek on Twitter

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