"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

At Office, Anything Beyond Handshake Can be Touchy

After countless bear hugs, fist bumps, elbow grips, and pats-on-the-back, Elizabeth Bernstein realized that she is her office’s “touchee”—someone co-workers know will be receptive to physical demonstrations of support, she writes for the Wall Street Journal. That got her thinking: When is such touching OK, and when does it invade personal space, or constitute harassment?

From a legal standpoint, handshakes are the only 100% approved physical contact—everything else is dangerously open to interpretation. Nonetheless, touching is a fundamental aspect of personal communication—look how we’ve inserted it into Facebook and Twitter via the “nudge” and “poke”—and brings a dash of humanity to the office. “It shows that we’re not alone,” said one worker of back-scratches she gives and receives from colleagues. “And it’s like a 5-second vacation.”

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