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  #151  
Old 05-03-2019, 11:39 PM
Odesio is online now
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Originally Posted by Saintly Loser View Post
I, for one, don't disagree with such a rule. And I'm pretty sure that we're only months away from exactly that rule in any company big enough to have an HR department. Actually, I think we're going to see a rule that says "no touching whatsoever, ever, under any circumstances."
You'd be wrong. I can confirm for you that this isn't exactly a hot topic in HR forums, magazines, or seminars. Because tapping someone on the shoulder, the wrist, or other innocuous physical contact just isn't a problem that comes up all that frequently. When I hear complaints about inappropriate touching it's usually either more intimate touching (shoulder rub or something like that) or frequent contact. The closest conversations I've heard centered around hugging.
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  #152  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:00 AM
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...
I don't really think that it's asking for too much to expect employees to abide by elementary-school level conduct rules. "Billy, don't touch Sally" "But it was just her wrist, why is she such a big baby" is just not a reasonable exchange in a professional environment, and I don't think Sally has any obligation to take on the task of re-teaching grade school manners to Billy if he hasn't learned them yet. .... Is it unreasonable for HR to counsel the guy about third grade 'no touching' rules he doesn't get, and in which direction - should they fire him on the spot, or should they tell Sally to shut up and accept his hand on her?
I dunno about you, but in MY third grade, we touched a LOT. We'd wrestle around in the sandbox, chase each other around with "Boogers" , play Tag, do dances, and a whole lot of other things. And we had great glorious fun, and learned to like our fellow humans.

And I am so sorry if you had a elementary school where no kid touched another kid. That sounds horrible.
  #153  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:01 AM
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I see. And if the person touched considers all parts of their body the same, they should just suck it up because it was "only a shoulder touch"?
They can & should tell the other person "Sorry, I just don't like being touched- at all."

But you dont get to take your odd phobias to HR and get another person in trouble for a normal human behavior.
  #154  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:06 AM
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It probably won't go down that way. Most people in HR aren't going to view Sally as a trouble maker because she's making valid complaint. Most people in HR aren't going to put a black mark on touchy-McFeely's record for something so innocuous unless there was a past history of such behavior he was warned about. HR might not be your friend but we're usually not out to get you. Some people just aren't comfortable confronting others on their own and it's entirely appropriate to come to HR if they are more comfortable handling things that way.
A Valid complaint? "Bob touched me lightly on the shoulder to get my attention, so fire his ass?" How the fuck is your weird phobia (haphephobia) a valid complaint?

Look, like talking to someone, light touching among people you know well is a normal human behavior.

And there are also people who dont like being talked to directly.

Or having eye contact.
  #155  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:09 AM
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O...
Look, if I don't want to be touched by you it doesn't matter a bit to me what you "meant." I'm fucking used to men getting offended when I tell them to keep their hands to themselves because they "only meant to be nice" or think I'm being too sensitive. I don't care what you think or what you intended or what you "meant" I just want you to keep your hands to yourself and NOT TOUCH ME.

DON'T TOUCH PEOPLE WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION. Why is this so hard to understand? Keep your hands to yourself. Don't touch. A person's body belongs to them, not to you and you have no inherent right to touch them.

Seriously, what if you have a male friend whose idea of friendly contact is to reach down and touch the head of your penis through your pants? Every time you run into this guy he touches your penis. Does it fucking MATTER that he doesn't "mean" it in a sexual way? Does it matter that he just "means" to be friendly? Does it matter that you don't want your fucking penis touched without your permission or are you just public property, with your penis belonging to every rando who passes? Does that seem comfortable or right to you?
...
Can you add "dont talk to me"? How about "dont make eye contact with me"? I am sorry if you have haphephobia, but that's not normal. But it's Ok to ask people to not touch you.


And adding in unwanted touching of genitals is going way off the deep end.

Sexual touching is not appropriate in the workplace.
  #156  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:12 AM
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Why isn't "just don't do that" an optimal course of action? It actually requires LESS actions on your part.
Do we add "dont talk to me" and "dont make direct eye contact"?

Touching is a normal part of human communication.
  #157  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:13 AM
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It always amazes me how many people in these threads insist that there should be no problem with them touching people who don't want to be touched, and that they should not have to do anything whatsoever before placing hands on people that they either don't know or only lightly know. ...
It always amazes me how many people in these threads insist that there should be no problem with them talking directly to people or making eye contact with people who don't want that, and that they should not have to do anything whatsoever before placing talking to people or looking people in the eye that they either don't know or only lightly know.
  #158  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:15 AM
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I guarantee you that if we worked together, any touch of you upon me would be out of line. I hate that.

There's a cool guy I work with everyday, and when he leaves, he comes over and fist-bumps me. I'd rather not do it. But I don't want to hurt his feelings, and I actually don't care if anyone touches me anywhere ...
"Any touch would be out of line....I actually don't care if anyone touches me anywhere ..."
  #159  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:20 AM
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Haha. I had to check whether this was a zombie thread when I saw the title.
  #160  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:40 AM
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Zombies hate being touched - bit of 'em keep flaking off...
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  #161  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:53 AM
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Here is a good situation which will explain- you have arachnophobia. It's Halloween, and as is customary, Susan is decorating the office. Some of the decorations include webbing with little plastic spiders and a big rubber spider at the corner of a cube.

Situation #1. You march into HR, and inform them you have arachnophobia, and Susans decorations are making you uncomfortable and they should punish her. They ask you if you ever mentioned this to Susan (or anyone), you say NO, and they mark you down as a idiot troublemaker- you will never get a promotion again, and will be the first to be laid off.

#2. You do mention it to Susan , and she sez "Oh, I am so sorry, I didn't know!" and takes them down.

#3, as above but Dave the office joker hears this, and fills your cube with spiders, webs and a big rubber one that falls from the ceiling on you. You complain to HR. They fire his stupid ass.

That's what you do when you have a phobia- you tell others. Then they can help you. People do not want to make you uncomfortable- in general.
  #162  
Old 05-04-2019, 03:30 AM
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FWIW I had a training for work in which we were taught that there is only one place it’s okay to touch someone you don’t have some kind of familial or intimate relationship with: the outside of the arm, between the shoulder and elbow. Seems to make a certain amount of sense, instinctually.
  #163  
Old 05-04-2019, 06:42 AM
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I totally wouldn't mind. I'm at the grocery store looking for something,with my earbuds in, listening to a podcast. A stranger taps me on the shoulder. I have to turn off my podcast, remove my earbuds, get my hearing aid container out of my pocket, power up the device, put it in my ear, and say, "yes?".

"Ummmmmmm. . . Do you know what aisle the pickles are in, they used to be right after the mustard, but they aren't anymore. My husband likes pickles, but not the sour kind."
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It really is harder and harder for me to be sure anymore but I do think that both of you are engaging in humor but it really does seem to be true for more and more people.

Again, non-sexual non-aggressive touch has throughout history been a normal and important communication channel (with some religious-based gender prohibitions in certain cultures and sub-cultures). We are in what is by the scale of history a very abnormal time in regards not only to touch but in regards to communication in general.

People (or at least some people) are not just uncomfortable with touch, they are increasingly uncomfortable with face to face, even voice to voice communication. They just have less and less of it. They go out in the world in their own bubbles, earpods in, engaging with their phones and private (or at least physically disconnected) worlds rather than with the people around them. Calling someone is increasingly considered intrusive and weird compared to sending them a text. Teens are growing up spending more and more time Instagramming and texting and less time talking face to face or even on the phone. A neighbor knocking on your door without calling (or texting first better yet) is something odd. I'm getting the sense that making direct eye contact is beginning to make more people uncomfortable.
I wasn't joking. I think that my earbuds (and usually sunglasses) are pretty straightforward cues that I'm not currently in the mood to interact. I'm not sure that that's a sign of the looming apocalypse, but how difficult is it to recognize and respect obvious cues?
  #164  
Old 05-04-2019, 06:43 AM
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As an aside from this discussion, I can't believe that you actually hug people on a daily basis at your work. At the risk of sounding sexist, maybe that's just a woman thing. I would never go into my work and hug other male or female colleagues.
I never said I hug my co-workers daily. But there are people I have a "hugging relationship" with and people I don't--for those that I do, we hug each other after a long separation (for us, the first day back after summer break), or when someone gets really good or really bad news. I think that's pretty standard. But I have other co-workers I would never hug, even though we are every bit as close, because it seems pretty clear that they aren't huggers (I, myself, am pretty hug-neutral).

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Here is a good situation which will explain- you have arachnophobia. It's Halloween, and as is customary, Susan is decorating the office. Some of the decorations include webbing with little plastic spiders and a big rubber spider at the corner of a cube.

Situation #1. You march into HR, and inform them you have arachnophobia, and Susans decorations are making you uncomfortable and they should punish her. They ask you if you ever mentioned this to Susan (or anyone), you say NO, and they mark you down as a idiot troublemaker- you will never get a promotion again, and will be the first to be laid off.

#2. You do mention it to Susan , and she sez "Oh, I am so sorry, I didn't know!" and takes them down.

#3, as above but Dave the office joker hears this, and fills your cube with spiders, webs and a big rubber one that falls from the ceiling on you. You complain to HR. They fire his stupid ass.

That's what you do when you have a phobia- you tell others. Then they can help you. People do not want to make you uncomfortable- in general.

I think there's also situation #2b:

You tell Susan. She acknowledges what you say, but nothing changes. You tell her again. She makes excuses about why THESE spiders aren't scary--the ones in the webs are tiny, too tiny to be scary. The big one is just a big friendly cartoon spider no one could be scared of. You press. She says she will take them down. She doesn't. You talk to her again. She tells you that she talked to everyone else in the office and no one else was bothered or offended by the spiders. She asks if you have this phobia at home, or just at work? Do you prohibit your children from having spiderman toys? But she agrees to take them down. Nothing happens. You FINALLY go to HR or your supervisor or whatever and they talk to Susan. She is genuinely flabbergasted and tells everyone in the office that you ran straight to HR and never said a word to her, and people believe her because she's telling the truth--those early conversations didn't even register to her because she finds the idea of being sincerely scared of plastic spiders to be just silly.

I have seen this pattern over and over again in my professional life. Much of the time, a single conversation does the trick, but in some cases people get told something is a problem and they just don't hear it until it's escalated.
  #165  
Old 05-04-2019, 07:19 AM
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The point is you only seem to want a ban on touches that YOU consider offensive.
If that's your point, then I feel comfortable declaring your point absurd, given that you actually quoted me saying the opposite.
  #166  
Old 05-04-2019, 07:34 AM
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I am functioning just fine in society, thankyewverymuch. I would also thank you not to try to diagnose me over the internet.
"You should see a doctor about that" is the exact opposite of trying to diagnose someone over the internet.

You posted about your abnormal response to normal behavior as a reason why other people should behave the way you want them to. Instead of making your problem someone else's problem and trying to control them, an alternative would be to just treat the problem.
  #167  
Old 05-04-2019, 07:36 AM
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Why are so few posters noticing that MEN touching WOMEN is the salient part of the discussion? Not whether different cultures find different levels of touching appropriate. Not whether certain individuals are hypersensitive to touch. Men don't touch each other with the same intent that they touch women. Women don't react to women touching them the way they react to men touching them.

Because a man touching a woman, signaling a controlling message, is different than any other kind of touching. Sorry, it just is. It is apparently somewhere between hard and impossible for men to grasp just how dangerous men are to women, fundamentally and always. That women are always conscious of boundaries being crossed and having to decide how to deal with it, how to delicately and tactfully get a man to back off without arousing or angering, without raining down contempt, humiliation, or just escalation down on herself. It is a dance men don't do, don't even notice.
  #168  
Old 05-04-2019, 07:41 AM
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Here is a good situation which will explain- you have arachnophobia. It's Halloween, and as is customary, Susan is decorating the office. Some of the decorations include webbing with little plastic spiders and a big rubber spider at the corner of a cube.

Situation #1. You march into HR, and inform them you have arachnophobia, and Susans decorations are making you uncomfortable and they should punish her. They ask you if you ever mentioned this to Susan (or anyone), you say NO, and they mark you down as a idiot troublemaker- you will never get a promotion again, and will be the first to be laid off.

#2. You do mention it to Susan , and she sez "Oh, I am so sorry, I didn't know!" and takes them down.

#3, as above but Dave the office joker hears this, and fills your cube with spiders, webs and a big rubber one that falls from the ceiling on you. You complain to HR. They fire his stupid ass.

That's what you do when you have a phobia- you tell others. Then they can help you. People do not want to make you uncomfortable- in general.
This seems like another "don't make your problem their problem" situation.
  #169  
Old 05-04-2019, 07:45 AM
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A Valid complaint? "Bob touched me lightly on the shoulder to get my attention, so fire his ass?" How the fuck is your weird phobia (haphephobia) a valid complaint?
It's not really my place to decide for an employee what they should or shouldn't find offensive. If Sally doesn't like to be touched it's not unreasonable for her to come tell me it made her feel uncomfortable and she doesn't want it happen in the future. Some people are really uncomfortable with confrontation of any kind and we have an open door policy where I work. If I'm dismissive towards Sally's complaint I'm just making the situation worse. Sally's going to get the impression that we don't care when an employee makes a complaint, she may become disengaged, or she may file a complaint with the EEOC. By taking Sally's complaint seriously I may be able to avoid all of the above.

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Look, like talking to someone, light touching among people you know well is a normal human behavior.
I agree. And you may have seen in one of my previous posts where I clearly stated that I didn't see a need to give Mr. McFeely a warning or fire him. Just because I think Sally's making a valid complaint doesn't mean I think Mr. McFeely did anything wrong.
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  #170  
Old 05-04-2019, 08:20 AM
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Some people just don't recognize boundaries. One would hope a gentle admonition not to touch would be sufficient and not require a formal HR complaint.

Awhile back, a nurse I didn't know came up to me in a hospital corridor and began rearranging the neck of my scrub top, saying that the tag was sticking out. I recoiled a bit and told her no thanks. Then I reported her to the head of nursing and got her fired.

Well no, I didn't do that. Imagine if the situation had been in reverse though.
  #171  
Old 05-04-2019, 08:52 AM
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"You should see a doctor about that" is the exact opposite of trying to diagnose someone over the internet.

You posted about your abnormal response to normal behavior as a reason why other people should behave the way you want them to. Instead of making your problem someone else's problem and trying to control them, an alternative would be to just treat the problem.
You are indeed trying to diagnose me. You are diagnosing me as being ill because I don't want to be handled by other people willynilly. You suggested two possible diagnoses, both of which are problems with wanted touch, which is not a problem that I have. Not wanting to be touched by anybody whatever time they feel like it is not an illness that needs to be treated.

Someone else insisting on touching me against my will is trying to control me. Why should they be allowed to do so?

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Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
Why are so few posters noticing that MEN touching WOMEN is the salient part of the discussion?

Because a man touching a woman, signaling a controlling message, is different than any other kind of touching.
I agree with this to some extent; but I don't like unwanted touch from other women, either, and I think there are a lot of others who also don't.

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This seems like another "don't make your problem their problem" situation.
What are you suggesting the arachnophobe in that example do? Quit the job, so that the other person can put up Halloween decorations -- and not only so that they can put up Halloween decorations, but so that they can put up Halloween decorations to their precise individual taste?

Widely varying people very often need to work together. Figuring out how they can effectively do so is a problem for all of them together, and needs to be dealt with in that fashion.
  #172  
Old 05-04-2019, 09:13 AM
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You are indeed trying to diagnose me. You are diagnosing me as being ill because I don't want to be handled by other people willynilly. You suggested two possible diagnoses, both of which are problems with wanted touch, which is not a problem that I have. Not wanting to be touched by anybody whatever time they feel like it is not an illness that needs to be treated.

Someone else insisting on touching me against my will is trying to control me. Why should they be allowed to do so?



I agree with this to some extent; but I don't like unwanted touch from other women, either, and I think there are a lot of others who also don't.



What are you suggesting the arachnophobe in that example do? Quit the job, so that the other person can put up Halloween decorations -- and not only so that they can put up Halloween decorations, but so that they can put up Halloween decorations to their precise individual taste?

Widely varying people very often need to work together. Figuring out how they can effectively do so is a problem for all of them together, and needs to be dealt with in that fashion.
Bolding mine.

Common sense of course includes respecting other's peoples wishes when it is reasonably possible to do so. It isn't too hard to decorate for Halloween without using spiders, so it should be respected and not doing so when such has been expressed is being a jerk. Employees intentionally being jerks to other employees may require HR involvement. OTOH what if Halloween as a holiday offends you? You believe it is an affront to your religious beliefs or something. Should the entire office/business be prohibited from decorating or celebrating at all to accommodate your honest strong preference? If someone knows you dislike any touch they should avoid touching you. Give you the space you prefer.

To the bolded part: is the issue the touch or the message the touch is conveying? The message is "we are over time and you need to wrap it up." Yes, someone telling you that, verbally or non-verbally, is giving a controlling message. Is that "trying to control you" out of bounds in a business setting?

Because then wow I am out of bounds all the time. If I am running a meeting I am keeping the meeting and the discussion under control and running on time to finish up when it should every time!

Last edited by DSeid; 05-04-2019 at 09:15 AM.
  #173  
Old 05-04-2019, 11:05 AM
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DSeid:

It's not functionally possible to have business meetings without someone controlling the timing and the subjects of the meeting. If we're going to have this sort of society at all, we have to have business meetings. Therefore it's necessary to work out ways of doing so.

It's not, however, necessary to have these ways include one or more of the people at the meeting putting their hands on one or more other people. If, indeed, everybody at the meeting thinks such a technique is entirely OK, then there's no reason not to use it. However, the chances that nobody does mind being so handled, in the modern USA in which people from wildly different cultural and individual backgrounds -- and, yes, genders -- will be mixed together at such a meeting, are so low that 'keep your hands off other people in this context' ought to be the default.

Use your words. I've told other people it's time for them to stop talking when I chair meetings, and I've been told myself to stop talking when I was running on. The world did not come to an end, and nobody took offense. It's not necessary to yell 'Shut up already, you fool!' Just say something like 'We'd better move on to the next agenda item now' or 'Thank you for that. Does anyone else have something new to add to the discussion? if not, I'm going to call the vote now' or whatever else similar suits the situation. Use the briefest of pauses to break in if necessary; everybody needs to take a breath sometime.

If there's an actual reason not to use words, draw attention to a timepiece. Just about everybody these days is carrying one of some sort.

-- to what might possibly be your larger point: as soon as there's more than one person involved in anything, it's not possible for all of them to always do everything they want in exactly the way they want. The other person(s) involved have to be taken into account. If you want to phrase that as one person controlling the other(s), you can do so -- but, if so, you have to acknowledge that there's always going to be controlling involved. If I'm trying to 'control' somebody by wanting them to keep their hands off of me, as Ruken posted, then they're trying to 'control' me by putting their hands on me. It's not reasonable to blame me for the first but say that the second is perfectly fine.

Who gets the 'control' in the case of disagreements is not decided solely by majority rule. If there are six people in the room, we don't say that it's OK for five of them to attack and rob the sixth because they happen to be the majority. If there are six people in the room, we shouldn't say it's OK for five of them (or any one of the five of them) to touch the sixth against the sixth's will, just because they happen to be in the majority in that particular room.


To several others: we have absolutely no evidence that I know of that the person who complained to HR asked for the person who touched her to be fired; let alone that HR complied. We don't even have evidence that she hadn't first tried to talk to him directly -- we have the statement of the person who posted the incident in the other thread that she didn't do so after that incident, but crickets on whether the OP has any way of knowing whether she had done so after one or more previous incidents.
  #174  
Old 05-04-2019, 11:43 AM
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Why are so few posters noticing that MEN touching WOMEN is the salient part of the discussion? Not whether different cultures find different levels of touching appropriate. Not whether certain individuals are hypersensitive to touch. Men don't touch each other with the same intent that they touch women. Women don't react to women touching them the way they react to men touching them.

...
I touch men at work in exactly the same manner that I touch women. You are mistaken to assume you can accurately judge intent. Moreover, I identified two types of situations where I was bothered by physical contact initiated by women.

Hopefully we will soon get to the point where we interact solely from afar via keyboards. Yeah, that will be an improvement over actually having to share physical space with another human. No chance anyone will mistake intent or get offended by THAT!
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  #175  
Old 05-04-2019, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
...

I think there's also situation #2b:

You tell Susan. She acknowledges what you say, but nothing changes. You tell her again. She makes excuses about why THESE spiders aren't scary--the ones in the webs are tiny, too tiny to be scary. The big one is just a big friendly cartoon spider no one could be scared of. You press. She says she will take them down. She doesn't. You talk to her again. She tells you that she talked to everyone else in the office and no one else was bothered or offended by the spiders. She asks if you have this phobia at home, or just at work? Do you prohibit your children from having spiderman toys? But she agrees to take them down. Nothing happens. You FINALLY go to HR or your supervisor or whatever and they talk to Susan. She is genuinely flabbergasted and tells everyone in the office that you ran straight to HR and never said a word to her, and people believe her because she's telling the truth--those early conversations didn't even register to her because she finds the idea of being sincerely scared of plastic spiders to be just silly.

I have seen this pattern over and over again in my professional life. Much of the time, a single conversation does the trick, but in some cases people get told something is a problem and they just don't hear it until it's escalated.
As has been said- if a reasonable request has been made and the behavior deliberately constantly re-occurs, sure, go to HR.

But altho your scenario is plausible, why believe the worst to start?
  #176  
Old 05-04-2019, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
Why are so few posters noticing that MEN touching WOMEN is the salient part of the discussion? Not whether different cultures find different levels of touching appropriate. Not whether certain individuals are hypersensitive to touch. Men don't touch each other with the same intent that they touch women. Women don't react to women touching them the way they react to men touching them.

Because a man touching a woman, signaling a controlling message, is different than any other kind of touching. Sorry, it just is. ....
Because it's not. It's about touching co-workers. Not men touching women.

And it's really not. Men & women can actually have normal non-sexual encounters, believe it or not.
  #177  
Old 05-04-2019, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
You are indeed trying to diagnose me. You are diagnosing me as being ill because I don't want to be handled by other people willynilly. You suggested two possible diagnoses, both of which are problems with wanted touch, which is not a problem that I have. Not wanting to be touched by anybody whatever time they feel like it is not an illness that needs to be treated.

.....

What are you suggesting the arachnophobe in that example do? Quit the job, so that the other person can put up Halloween decorations -- and not only so that they can put up Halloween decorations, but so that they can put up Halloween decorations to their precise individual taste? ...
Hardly. Look, nearly everyone has a mild phobia or two. You're not mentally ill for having one.But not wanted to be touched, even by people you know well, is a phobia.

Ask nicely.
  #178  
Old 05-04-2019, 12:42 PM
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thorny,

Just so it's clear then - your issue is not that someone is trying to "control" you and that they should not be allowed to do so, you recognize that such is part of a work environment and running meetings, but the non-sexual non-aggressive touch itself. It's not the message for you; it's the medium.

As to
Quote:
... Who gets the 'control' in the case of disagreements is not decided solely by majority rule. If there are six people in the room, we don't say that it's OK for five of them to attack and rob the sixth because they happen to be the majority. If there are six people in the room, we shouldn't say it's OK for five of them (or any one of the five of them) to touch the sixth against the sixth's will, just because they happen to be in the majority in that particular room. ...
Absolutely not solely by majority rule and also absolutely not by the minority imposing their preference as the default for everyone either.

I don't touch co-workers much but I sometimes quietly hum some song that's gotten into my head while reviewing charts before going into a room. If one of my co-workers is annoyed by my humming they should tell me and I'll stop, try to remember that humming near that person annoys them and stop myself in the future. There is some non-zero number of people who are annoyed by others humming. Respecting those individuals expressed preferences is not hard to do and should be done. Expecting that no one should ever quietly hum at work everywhere without getting the prior consent of co-workers because there is some non-zero possibility that a co-worker does not like humming, because you dislike it, because humming annoys you, is unreasonable.

Humming is as unto a light touch on the wrist. Ask the hummer to stop and they should not hum again. We are not talking about belting out show tunes or screaming "fuck!".

Last edited by DSeid; 05-04-2019 at 12:43 PM.
  #179  
Old 05-04-2019, 12:51 PM
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My random thoughts

In the realm of things that people do that are wrong, some things are more wrong than others. Some things are way more wrong than others.

I was not at that meeting so I can’t judge the intent of the guy that touched the women on the wrist. I’ll agree that he shouldn’t have done it, and best it was a lapse of mindfulness that made a coworker unnecessarily uncomfortable.

But I do have a problem with people describing this action using phrasing that is typically associated with physical or sexual assault. Such as “he put his hands on me” or “he touched me without my consent”. While it is true that these phrases do describe the action accurately, I also believe that these phrases are loaded because they are typically associated with assault. Just accurately describe what happened - he touched my wrist lightly during a meeting. Then let that be the metric for judging the degree of wrongness.
Equating this action to assault cheapens the idea of assault and makes it more difficult for victims of more serious offenses to get the justice they deserve.

Now, there are guys out there that like to harass and discomfit women. And they know how to make a light non-sexual touch, a random greeting, or simple eye contact into full blown harassment. And that is part of the technique, they will always come back with “ all I did was touch her wrist”, “Jeez, I just said Good Morning” or “ all I did was look at her, she’s crazy”. It’s a deliberate technique.

Now the answer to this is NOT a ban on brief casual non-sexual touching, conversation or eye contact. In fact, I believe that by doing that you isolate your coworkers from each other, making them more vulnerable.
In fact, I think the best defense against the random office creep is a socially bonded workplace. A bunch of friends can shut down a creep faster than any HR Department.

Now, I’ll admit most of my career took place in the days before HR departments and I never worked in a place with a formal HR department.

And in my experience, we worked stuff out like grown-ups. Seriously. Person A would say “I didn’t like it when you did X, it made me uncomfortable”. And Person B said “I’m so sorry, I won’t do X again”. And it worked, because most of us are good people that like getting along at work.

I can think of a couple of times when someone used an intermediary. Once a bunch of the older guys were uncomfortable with the way a young female sales assistant talked about her sex life and they asked me to talk to her. Another time a guy was continually harassing a couple of women until a group of guys at work let him know strongly that it would be a bad idea to continue.

But we worked it out, usually with a minimum of drama. The key is to remember that most people really are good people, even if you don’t have a lot in common with them.
  #180  
Old 05-04-2019, 01:23 PM
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Hardly. Look, nearly everyone has a mild phobia or two. You're not mentally ill for having one.But not wanted to be touched, even by people you know well, is a phobia..
No. Not wanting to be touched except when and by whom I want to be touched is not an illness that needs to be treated. It's an entirely reasonable human preference. So do not tell me that I need to go to a doctor and get "cured" of it.

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Just so it's clear then - your issue is not that someone is trying to "control" you and that they should not be allowed to do so, you recognize that such is part of a work environment and running meetings, but the non-sexual non-aggressive touch itself. It's not the message for you; it's the medium.
Correct. The "control" phrasing was in response to Ruken, who had said that I was trying to "control" other people by asking them to keep their hands off me.

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In the realm of things that people do that are wrong, some things are more wrong than others. Some things are way more wrong than others.
True.

Handling other people against their will by putting one's hand on them at meetings, poking them to get attention, etc. is not assault. I don't think anybody's said that it is.

It isn't humming absentmindedly in the corner, either. It's claiming a sort of right to another person's body.

I agree that this can often be worked out between the people concerned without any hard feelings. I discussed, in fact, a case in which I and a co-worker have done so. But I don't agree that this means that the default, in most contexts, ought to be that the people who want to do the touching all get one touch each, plus however many they need to be reminded of (since if touching is considered the default, believe me, most people even with good intentions will need to be reminded). And I most certainly don't agree that it should be as many touches as they want because, if I'm understanding properly a couple (not all) of the people posting in this thread, it's all the problem of the person who doesn't want to be touched and they shouldn't even bring it up.

And I don't think that saying this minimizes actual assault. If anything, getting across to people that touching others is not in most situations automatically permissible might reduce such assault. I think we're mostly no longer teaching children that they have to kiss Uncle Mustache if they don't want to; even though most Uncle Mustaches have no bad intentions. I think there's good reason for that. (And no, I am most certainly suggesting that kids should never kiss their uncles. I'm saying they shouldn't have to kiss their uncles; which is not at all the same thing.)
  #181  
Old 05-04-2019, 03:08 PM
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Because it's not. It's about touching co-workers. Not men touching women.

And it's really not. Men & women can actually have normal non-sexual encounters, believe it or not.
Of course they can.
  #182  
Old 05-04-2019, 03:17 PM
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No. Not wanting to be touched except when and by whom I want to be touched is not an illness that needs to be treated. It's an entirely reasonable human preference. So do not tell me that I need to go to a doctor and get "cured" of it.
...


True.

Handling other people against their will by putting one's hand on them at meetings, poking them to get attention, etc. is not assault. I don't think anybody's said that it is.

..But I don't agree that this means that the default, in most contexts, ought to be that the people who want to do the touching all get one touch each, plus however many they need to be reminded of (since if touching is considered the default, believe me, most people even with good intentions will need to be reminded). ...
And I don't think that saying this minimizes actual assault. If anything, getting across to people that touching others is not in most situations automatically permissible might reduce such assault. I...
It's pretty normal to have a mild phobia or two. Unless they are destroying your life, you rarely need to go to a doctor and get "cured" of it. No one is saying that, just like a mild arachnophobia isnt something you need go to a doctor and get "cured" of it.

The phobia is your problem, but it's a reasonable accommodation to ask people not to touch you casually. Perfectly Ok, a very reasonable request. But let's not take your mild phobia and turn it into rules that everyone else must follow. Just like a person with arachnophobia can't demand TV stations never broadcast ads for horror or nature films with spiders in them. Not everyone has Haphephobia or arachnophobia or Ailurophobia, so those with those phobias dont get to make the whole world march to their fear. Cute kitten calendars are still Ok for the workplace.
  #183  
Old 05-04-2019, 03:24 PM
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Huh. There was a poster here that thought that a man offering his hand to shake while meeting in a professional situation was akin to attempted rape.

I'm a guy, I have taped a woman that I consider a friend at work to get her attention. Or if she asks for help and I have to stand behind her looking at her computer, I might even tap the back of her chair when I leave saying, 'You've got it, let me know if there are more problems." Heavens, I suppose that would be assault.

It's getting ridiculous.
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  #184  
Old 05-04-2019, 03:30 PM
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It's pretty normal to have a mild phobia or two. Unless they are destroying your life, you rarely need to go to a doctor and get "cured" of it. No one is saying that, just like a mild arachnophobia isnt something you need go to a doctor and get "cured" of it.

The phobia is your problem, but it's a reasonable accommodation to ask people not to touch you casually. Perfectly Ok, a very reasonable request. But let's not take your mild phobia and turn it into rules that everyone else must follow. Just like a person with arachnophobia can't demand TV stations never broadcast ads for horror or nature films with spiders in them. Not everyone has Haphephobia or arachnophobia or Ailurophobia, so those with those phobias dont get to make the whole world march to their fear. Cute kitten calendars are still Ok for the workplace.
You're being really weird here.

Thorny locust, I would guess that every person in the thread who isn't DrDeth gets the point you are making. (I suspect he does too.) I can't tell you what to do, but if I were you I'd question how far down the rabbit hole you want to go with him.
  #185  
Old 05-04-2019, 03:44 PM
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You're being really weird here.

Thorny locust, I would guess that every person in the thread who isn't DrDeth gets the point you are making. (I suspect he does too.) I can't tell you what to do, but if I were you I'd question how far down the rabbit hole you want to go with him.
Larry, any sociologist or psychologist will tell you that light non-sexual touching among people you know well is a normal part of human communication.

They will also happily define Haphephobia.

Like it said- it's OK to have a mild phobia. It's Ok to ask for reasonable accommodation.

BUT- it's not Ok to demand the whole world obey your special rules. Really, Haphephobia is not something that everyone has. Altho, true, it is getting more and more common. A lot of people are not properly socialized, they don't know how to act in a normal social setting.

So, I am not sure what you mean by 'weird".
  #186  
Old 05-04-2019, 03:55 PM
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It's pretty normal to have a mild phobia or two. Unless they are destroying your life, you rarely need to go to a doctor and get "cured" of it. No one is saying that,
Ruken did. Twice.

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Have you discussed your condition with a physician?
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That's for your physician to declare. If normal human interaction is causing you physical discomfort, he or she may be able to look into treatments for allodynia, haphephobia or similar very real disorders to improve your ability to function in society.
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But let's not take your mild phobia and turn it into rules that everyone else must follow. Just like a person with arachnophobia can't demand TV stations never broadcast ads for horror or nature films with spiders in them. Not everyone has Haphephobia or arachnophobia or Ailurophobia, so those with those phobias dont get to make the whole world march to their fear. Cute kitten calendars are still Ok for the workplace.
There are a whole lot of people who don't want to have other people put their hands on them in board meetings, or poke them to get their attention in movie theaters. This has not been common behavior in any professional setting I've ever been in, or for that matter in any movie theater I've ever been in. The fact that you are comfortable with it does not mean that you get to impose that on everybody else.

And I will ask you also to not try diagnosing me. But I think it's possible I know what the problem might be here. I think this whole thing was probably set off by my post quoted below:

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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
The question really isn't only whether the touch is sexual, or even whether it's controlling. Some of us get chalk-screeching-on-a-blackboard level effects by being touched unexpectedly, or in a context in which we didn't invite the touch; even if we enthusiastically take place in touch in other circumstances.
Minor point: I don't get the exact symptoms of chalk-screeching-on-blackboard as a response to unwanted touch. I was making a comparison to level of annoyance. I thought that was clear; but maybe some people read "level" as "type".

Major point: I chose that comparison partly because I thought the level was equivalent, and also because it's something that bothers some people but not others, and can be done either by accident or deliberately to annoy. So I thought it was a good example.

But it occurs to me that it may be a terrible example: because the use of actual chalk on actual chalkboards has been out of style for years now, and so people may not know what I'm talking about.

Scraping chalk on a blackboard in a particular fashion produces a noise that, in some people but not others, causes an unpleasant sensation sometimes described as 'having one's teeth on edge'. It can, again, be done either by accident or on purpose; and was sometimes done by schoolchildren in order to be annoying.

People susceptible to the sensation didn't run screaming home to hide under the bed and have be coaxed back out again to go through therapy. They didn't become terrified of classrooms. They didn't become terrified of chalk, or of using chalk. They didn't become unable to function in classroom environments, except that while the noise was ongoing they certainly weren't going to be able to concentrate on anything else. They didn't even leave the room, though I suppose if the noise went on long enough somebody might. The usual reaction was to clap one's hands over one's ears and, if a teacher hadn't already done so, tell the offender to cut it out.

So if what you are thinking is that I sit in meetings afraid all the time that somebody's going to touch me, or even that I'm afraid if somebody pokes me -- no, despite your and Ruken's attempts at longdistance diagnosis, I'm not worrying about it all the time. (As I said, in my experience this is quite rare behavior.) And if it does happen it doesn't make me afraid. It makes me annoyed. And the unwanted touch is far more disruptive to my concentration -- during the time when it's actually happening -- than speaking to me.

But if what you are saying is that everyone who objects to others' claiming the right to touch them at any moment for any reason is so abnormal as a human being that it's right and proper for others to assume that they can touch anybody at any moment except for a few weird people who are just being unreasonable -- no. You are just plain wrong about that.

ETA: Larry, thanks. And you've got a point there. I need to go do other things for a while, anyway.

Last edited by thorny locust; 05-04-2019 at 03:57 PM.
  #187  
Old 05-04-2019, 04:01 PM
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DrDeth aside--and I know that's like a metric shit-ton of posts to put aside--I'm wondering if there's an accommodation position:

1) Everyone, pay attention to the norms at your workplace.
2) If you're in a non-touching workplace, and someone touches you, it's cool to let them know what the norms are.
3) If you're in a touching workplace, and someone touches you, it's cool to let them know that you don't like it.
4) If you touch people, stay within norms. A workplace like mine, where shoulder-touches are normal, doesn't invite you to touch folks on the thigh, or face, or wherever.
5) If you touch someone within norms, and they give any indication of disliking it, you screwed up--minorly. Apologize and don't do it again.
6) If someone touches you within norms, and you dislike it, let the toucher know, but don't treat it like assault.

We're humans. Under the best of circumstances--where we're trying to make the world a more tolerable place for one another--we can still screw up. Be patient with each other, be clear about your needs with each other.

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 05-04-2019 at 04:02 PM.
  #188  
Old 05-04-2019, 04:02 PM
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...But if what you are saying is that everyone who objects to others' claiming the right to touch them at any moment for any reason is so abnormal as a human being that it's right and proper for others to assume that they can touch anybody at any moment except for a few weird people who are just being unreasonable -- no. You are just plain wrong about that.
Quite the strawman, no one is saying that.
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  #189  
Old 05-04-2019, 04:08 PM
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Guess I can't quite let it go, and am sure this won't fit in the edit window.

Of course light nonsexual touch between people who know each other well is normal human social interaction! So, for that matter, is sexual touch; up to and including sexual intercourse. So is eating a meal together. So are all sorts of things.

Doesn't mean you're entitled to do all of that in the meeting. Nor are you entitled to do any or all of those things with somebody who doesn't want to join you; whether they don't want to share those activities with you at all, or just not at the moment. Not even if you know them well.


Now I really am going to be gone for a while.
  #190  
Old 05-04-2019, 05:06 PM
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Because it's not. It's about touching co-workers. Not men touching women.

And it's really not. Men & women can actually have normal non-sexual encounters, believe it or not.
Yes, it very much is.

The example used in the OP is of a man touching a woman. The majority of examples of uncomfortable touches in the workplace are men touching women. It is very much a gendered phenomenon, and that cannot be ignored.

The specific example in the OP is not a phobia. The guy was making a dominance play. You don't grab people's wrist. It's long been culturally understood to be a dominance thing--it's why it was Wonder Woman's weakness back in the 1960s, and why the trope of trying up women's hands is enough to subdue to them completely.

Similarly, most of the touches that people want to be able to do are touches that they don't do to men. Men generally don't touch each other in professional environments, outside of the handshake. Sure, the occasional tap to get your attention occurs, but there's a reason why people use the least amount of contact to pull that off.

You keep trying to reframe this a phobia, trying to appeal to psychology. But you know one thing I learned in a basic psychology class? The concept of the personal space bubble and how it's different for different people. They didn't try to pathologize people who have wider space bubbles. It was just treated as individual and cultural preference.

That framing is just bad, turning the person who doesn't want to be touched into a "problem" that you are being so gracious in "accommodating." But that's not the situation at all.

The real situation is that we have not as a society moved to the point where we treat professional men and professional women the same way. Hell, I'll even admit that I'd rather touch a woman than a man--even in personal life. I hug my female friends much more than I hug my male friends. The reason isn't some phobia, but part of the culture.

If you ignore the gender dynamics, you're not going to understand this. If you ignore that 1 in 20 women have been sexually assaulted, you're going to misunderstand this.
  #191  
Old 05-04-2019, 05:06 PM
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Seems like a really shallow way to view the situation. It's getting a bit tired this notion that whenever there is an apparent conflict or problem, the automatic assumption is that there is a bad person and a good person, and the solution is to identify which is which, punish or shame one, and exalt the other. Undoubtedly it doesn't help that we have a dualistic (duel!) adversarial legal system.

I'm starting to really come around to the idea Cory Doctorow is promoting, that our impulse to place blame has become so pathological that it has now become one of the largest obstacles to positive change.

If you really look deeply at most conflicts, they are symptoms of problems inherent in the system. The solution is not to hulk smash the elements at the point of failure, but to see what parts of the system led to the conflict and resolve them.

I myself feel somewhat uncomfortable being touched, but I also know that touch is a vital human need, and the fact that there is such a disparity is a symptom of a much larger than issue than how well people respect boundaries.
  #192  
Old 05-04-2019, 08:01 PM
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The specific example in the OP is not a phobia. The guy was making a dominance play. You don't grab people's wrist. It's long been culturally understood to be a dominance thing--it's why it was Wonder Woman's weakness back in the 1960s, and why the trope of trying up women's hands is enough to subdue to them completely
The OP said that the man put his hand on the woman's wrist. I didn't take that to mean that the man grabbed her wrist. Perhaps we're all filtering this through our own lenses. I viewed the gesture as an attempt by one coworker to reassure another that he was not cutting her off for no reason. If the OP had said he "grabbed" her I would probably be more in the control camp of the argument. But to me there's a big difference between placing your hand on someone's wrist or forearm and grabbing them.
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  #193  
Old 05-04-2019, 08:03 PM
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Seems like a really shallow way to view the situation. It's getting a bit tired this notion that whenever there is an apparent conflict or problem, the automatic assumption is that there is a bad person and a good person, and the solution is to identify which is which, punish or shame one, and exalt the other. Undoubtedly it doesn't help that we have a dualistic (duel!) adversarial legal system.
I am curious. What would people like to see happen in regards to Sally's complaint? What actions if any should their employer take?
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  #194  
Old 05-04-2019, 09:23 PM
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The OP said that the man put his hand on the woman's wrist. I didn't take that to mean that the man grabbed her wrist. Perhaps we're all filtering this through our own lenses. I viewed the gesture as an attempt by one coworker to reassure another that he was not cutting her off for no reason. If the OP had said he "grabbed" her I would probably be more in the control camp of the argument. But to me there's a big difference between placing your hand on someone's wrist or forearm and grabbing them.
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In another thread, someone posted that they had an incident at work where a woman was talking at the end of a meeting, and a man put his hand on her wrist and said essentially 'we're out of time, let's table this discussion until later'.
Yep. Really, this is just a way of saying "I'm really out of time and must go", while making sure you get the persons attention and don't seem completely dismissive.

I've run into these types of folks that do not understand that the meeting is over, and I MUST leave. Seems rather rude to just turn on your heel and go. And yes, many of these folks need some sort of clue to get their attention so you can make a polite exit.
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  #195  
Old 05-04-2019, 10:20 PM
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I am curious. What would people like to see happen in regards to Sally's complaint? What actions if any should their employer take?
I'd like it to be like this:

"Sally, can you let me know in this context what your boundaries of touch are? Is this an issue just with Dave, or is it a wider issue?"

Then HR could help make a plan. If it's just with Dave--AND IF THERE ARE NO OTHER COMPLAINTS ABOUT DAVE--then just tell Dave, "Hey, it makes Sally uncomfortable when you touch her. Don't do that again."

If Dave complies, that's the end of it.
  #196  
Old 05-05-2019, 12:13 AM
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DrDeth aside--and I know that's like a metric shit-ton of posts to put aside--I'm wondering if there's an accommodation position:

1) Everyone, pay attention to the norms at your workplace.
2) If you're in a non-touching workplace, and someone touches you, it's cool to let them know what the norms are.
3) If you're in a touching workplace, and someone touches you, it's cool to let them know that you don't like it.
4) If you touch people, stay within norms. A workplace like mine, where shoulder-touches are normal, doesn't invite you to touch folks on the thigh, or face, or wherever.
5) If you touch someone within norms, and they give any indication of disliking it, you screwed up--minorly. Apologize and don't do it again.
6) If someone touches you within norms, and you dislike it, let the toucher know, but don't treat it like assault.

We're humans. Under the best of circumstances--where we're trying to make the world a more tolerable place for one another--we can still screw up. Be patient with each other, be clear about your needs with each other.
I have no problems with these.
  #197  
Old 05-05-2019, 12:16 AM
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I'd like it to be like this:

"Sally, can you let me know in this context what your boundaries of touch are? Is this an issue just with Dave, or is it a wider issue?"

Then HR could help make a plan. If it's just with Dave--AND IF THERE ARE NO OTHER COMPLAINTS ABOUT DAVE--then just tell Dave, "Hey, it makes Sally uncomfortable when you touch her. Don't do that again."

If Dave complies, that's the end of it.
You dont understand how HR works. They are not there to protect employees, they are their to protect (their own asses and) the company. Complainers and complainees thus are be be gotten rid of.
  #198  
Old 05-05-2019, 12:31 AM
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Ruken did. Twice.







There are a whole lot of people who don't want to have other people put their hands on them in board meetings, or poke them to get their attention in movie theaters. This has not been common behavior in any professional setting I've ever been in, or for that matter in any movie theater I've ever been in. The fact that you are comfortable with it does not mean that you get to impose that on everybody else.

And I will ask you also to not try diagnosing me. But I think it's possible I know what the problem might be here. I think this whole thing was probably set off by my post quoted below:...
So if what you are thinking is that I sit in meetings afraid all the time that somebody's going to touch me, or even that I'm afraid if somebody pokes me -- no, despite your and Ruken's attempts at longdistance diagnosis, I'm not worrying about it all the time. (As I said, in my experience this is quite rare behavior.) And if it does happen it doesn't make me afraid. It makes me annoyed. And the unwanted touch is far more disruptive to my concentration -- during the time when it's actually happening -- than speaking to me.

But if what you are saying is that everyone who objects to others' claiming the right to touch them at any moment for any reason is so abnormal as a human being that it's right and proper for others to assume that they can touch anybody at any moment except for a few weird people who are just being unreasonable -- no. You are just plain wrong about that..
Mild phobias are nothing to seek medical care over. Yes, indeed if you symptoms arose to those kinds of things you mentioned, then maybe some counseling. But as you said they dont. But it's still a mild form of haphephobia. Just like I have a mild form of Acrophobia in that i dont feel comfortable in high places without a window or guardrail or something. A mild phobia is a feeling of "I'd rather not", not the extreme "run screaming home assume the fetal position and turn the electric blanket up to 11" (actually, a panic attack, which is scary in of itself).


But if what you are saying is that everyone who objects to others' claiming the right to touch them at any moment for any reason is so abnormal as a human being that it's right and proper for others to assume that they can touch anybody at any moment except for a few weird people who are just being unreasonable -- no.

Not at all. It's a very mild phobia, and anyone you explain it to should be understanding, considerate and accommodating. You have every right to object- and I have said this over and over and over here.They should never do it again, on purpose. All I am asking is that if someone does innocently and normally touch you- that you explain it to them, not run off to HR first- where they will (sadly) think you are a deranged idiot that has to be gotten rid of asap. They will get rid of you to protect their asses and the company. They might also get rid of the guy who innocently touched you, as too many HR dept consider employees (except themself) to be as disposable as used Kleenex. And that's what you are going up against. Not a dept full of people who sincerely want to help you.
  #199  
Old 05-05-2019, 12:59 AM
DrDeth is online now
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I just got off the phone with one of my buddies, who works as a child psychologist for the school district. Of course he was unwilling to diagnose anyone. But he did say that haphephobia is become more and more common, along with Scopophobia (fear or dislike of being stared at or making eye contact) but he really prefers Social Anxiety Disorder , which can also be a fear or dislike of being talked to. He told me that now quite a few people have a mild version of it.

I thought I was half joking when I mentioned someone complains when you talk to them or make eye contact, but it's a real thing and it even happens in the workplace. Several well known celebrities will even put this in their contract!

So, thorny locust you are sitting there in your cube at work. New guy comes in, next cube. You stand up, welcome him, and he turns his head and walks away. Next thing you know, you are sitting in HR, because he complained you spoke and/or made eye contact. They are going to write you up, and put it in your file, and you have to go to a counseling class. You wont get fired or anything. Would you consider that perfectly OK? Would that be justice?
  #200  
Old 05-05-2019, 02:29 AM
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Good lord, people. Just because the mods are useless doesn't mean you have to dance to every dipshits tune.
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