- Do not have closed door meetings with two people of the opposite sex. Keep the door open. If it needs to be private or confidential, try these tips.
- Make sure both parties consent and record the meeting
- Have a manager or peer sit in on the meeting just to have another presenc
- Be respectful of personal space. It is not usually necessary to get closer than a foot or two of a person.
- Do not ever touch another person, even if it is strictly platonic, unless you have their consent. Believe it or not, not everyone likes to be touched. Granted, many people do not mind a pat on the back, a tap on the shoulder, or a sideways hug, but you never know who will be ok with it and who will be offended. Here are a few suggestions of what to do instead.
- If the setting is appropriate and you want to hug the person, just ask, “May I give you a quick hug?”
- If you are trying to get the persons attention, say their name rather than tap them on the shoulder.
- If you are thanking or congratulating someone, instead of a pat on the back, try gestures that have to be reciprocated such as a handshake, high five, or fist bump.
- Look people in the eyes when you are talking to them. There is no need to look anywhere else, especially places that feel creepy.
- Do not make crude jokes, sexual innuendos, or inappropriate comments. Ever.
- Do not pass around or show jokes, comics, posters, etc. with questionable or sexual content.
- Never ask out or date someone who you have authority over in any capacity. Yes, there may be mutual attraction there. Yes, it could be completely harmless. However, it could also create a very difficult situation. What if you break up? What if the relationship makes other people in the workplace uncomfortable? What if the person you ask out does not feel like they can say no? Be very careful and do not even put yourself in this situation at all.
- If you fall madly in love with an employee or coworker and it is genuinely mutual then one of you needs to get another job.
This brings me to another point. What is consent? Consent seems to be an easy concept on the surface, but the extraordinary number of sexual allegations in mainstream media these days makes me wonder as a clinician if some people really know what consent truly means. Let’s just clear up any possible confusion.
Keep in mind these basic rules of consent.
- Consent is always mutual.
- Consent is never assumed.
- Consent requires a specific request and a specific answer.
- The answer of yes or no should be respected the first time no matter what.
- Silence is never consent.
- Consent can never truly exist with a minor, in a position of authority, under the influence, unconscious, or forced.
Remember, consent means giving permission, a mutual agreement, approval. Here are some other things to keep in mind.
- Everyone has the right to change their mind any time they want. A yes, can turn into a no and needs to be respected.
- Consent in the past does not give someone a free pass in the future.
- Consent and appropriate boundaries are necessary in all types of relationships.
- In the context of a marriage, sexual consent applies in this arena as well. A spouse, man or woman, has the right to say no any time they want to. Nobody has the right to force their spouse into sexual activity. A marriage license does not equal entitlement or ownership.
- How someone dresses or looks never entitles another person to treat them however they want.
For more information about the #MeToo Movement, check out my previous blog Deniers Are Just as Hurtful as Abusers in the #MeToo Movement - A Therapist's Perspective & Some Encouragement For All Survivors.
Post written by Angie Ridings, LPC