JUST BRENDA: My colleague is too touchy-feely with me, help!

Sunday December 3 2017

PHOTO | FILE

My colleague has the habit of tapping my thigh to emphasise his points. This happens whenever I’m standing next to his desk. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JUST BRENDA
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Hi Brenda,

My colleague has the habit of tapping my thigh to emphasise his points. This happens whenever I’m standing next to his desk. At first I thought he was doing it for attention but even when we make eye contact during conversation, he will keep tapping my thigh as he speaks animatedly. I’m not calling out sexual harassment because he seems to be doing it unselfconsciously but it bothers me . Of course I haven’t told him yet because I don’t want to offend him. He’s a nice guy save for the thigh-tapping.

Here's the thing. Some women are okay with close bodily contact from the opposite sex, and some are not. Some men are oblivious to how much they touch women. Many are not.

If you are one of the women who is not comfortable with that much bodily contact, which you clearly are seeing as you're writing this letter, then firmly tell him to stop. Not laughingly, not rudely, just firmly.

Why should you suppress the fact that you are uncomfortable for the sake of his comfort? Is his comfort that important to you, and if so, why?

Does he do this to anyone else at all? My dear girl, this is how the Harvey Weinsteins of the world are developed. It isn't about offense, really. It's your thigh, and you don't want it to be touched. That's the end of the discussion. You don't have to give a reason.

You don't have to be ashamed. It's your body. Say he is doing it unconsciously.

Call him out a couple of times and that will soon be him consciously not feeling free enough to grope you – or anyone else.

If he stops talking to you or thinks you're uptight, it doesn't really matter as long as everyone is doing their jobs and you are also as comfortable in your space as he was when he was all up in it. If you can move away and tell him, with a witness preferably, even better.

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