With the recent attention given to sexual harassment, many of us may find ourselves asking — “What is sexual harassment and how can I not do it?”
If you are among that group, you’re in luck. We’re providing this guide to what is OK and what’s not.
On its website, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as “harassing someone because of that person’s sex.” It includes advances, requests or bullying of a sexual nature as well as offensive remarks about someone’s gender. And yes, it can be done by and to both men and women.
There’s no reason to stay confused about how to treat people appropriately. Here are some basic dos and don’ts for interacting safely in the workplace, social gatherings and other relational environments. Follow these, and you’re well on your way to staying out of lawsuits and news headlines.
DO: Offer genuine compliments.
DON’T: Offer compliments about a person’s body.
Maybe you didn’t mean for it to sound creepy, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t.
DO: Make conversation, requests and gestures that facilitate work or friendship.
DON’T: Make conversation, requests and gestures of a sexual nature.
It’s OK to talk to people. You can even interact about personal subjects — just not that personal.
DO: Greet other people in a friendly way.
DON’T: Whistle, make catcalls or leer.
If you wouldn’t say it to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the same scenario, then don’t.
DO: Be a kind and caring friend, co-worker and person.
DON’T: Pat, rub or otherwise touch someone unless they ask you to.
Unless that person is choking. Then you can perform the Heimlich maneuver without their consent.
DO: Greet people with a wave or a handshake.
DON’T: Greet everyone you see with a hug.
Depending on the nature of the relationship, hugs or other forms of physical touch can be questionable. If in doubt, don’t.
DO: Wear clothing that you like and makes you feel attractive.
DON’T: Remove it.
Unless the clothing is covered in gasoline and in flames. But by and large it is considered inappropriate to remove your clothing in front of someone who hasn’t asked that it be removed. The rule also applies to sharing unsolicited photos of your unclothed body.
DO: Tell jokes and share funny memes.
DON’T: Tell jokes or share funny memes that are sexist or of a sexual nature.
You might do this with friends, but these can easily be misinterpreted, so play it safe.
DO: Pursue friendships and even romantic relationships.
DON’T: Make multiple relationship requests if they the first one or two requests are turned down.
It’s not romantic to not know what “no” means. Also, the ‘DO’ doesn’t necessarily apply if you are the person’s boss or professional superior.