As a woman in the professional world, it is easy to struggle with the boundaries between being too touchy and coming off the wrong way. It can be all too easy to get wrapped up in complicated sexual harassment situations, so where do you draw the line when it comes to physical contact at work? For some poeple, the answer is to simply refrain from physical contact at work, innocent or otherwise. At the very least, there are some important boundaries to consider with everyone at work.
Don't Touch Hair
Don't go around touching people's hair. If you work with your best friend of ten years, there might be an exception to this rule. In general, touching someone's hair is very intimate and you should refrain from doing so at work. This can also cross the line between platonic and sexual contact. To avoid any misunderstandings of this sort, touching of the hair is best left for outside business hours.
Don't Touch the Face
Touching someone's face is also very personal contact. This can be an easy way to spread germs, which is another reason why it isn't the best idea to touch people in the face. Think about how you would feel if someone reached out to touch your face at work, for any reason at all. It can make situations awkward and uncomfortable, and it is easy to misinterpret.
Hug When Needed
Sometimes, a congratulatory hug is needed. When something cool happens, you get good news, or you have helped a coworker through a tough project it may be necessary to exchange a friendly hug. Hugs are natural if you are close with your coworkers as well, especially for those that have worked together a long time. As a general rule, hugs are close physical contact that should be used sparingly. Leave hugs for dinner parties and holiday Christmas parties to avoid any misunderstandings.
When it comes to physical contact at work, there is a lot of gray area. As a rule, don't touch people at work--especially those that you don't know very well. Only you know the relationships that you have with your coworkers, and there are exceptions to every rule. Use your best judgment when figuring out where your boundaries are as well as those of your coworkers.