At Office, Anything Beyond Handshake Can be Touchy

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2009 4:15 PM CDT
At Office, Anything Beyond Handshake Can be Touchy
Touching can be a show of support for office-mates, but can also be seen as invasive.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – 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.”

(Read more hug stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.