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Sexual Harassment - The Difference Between Men and Women

Men and women have different perceptions of what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace.  What men think is appropriate behavior many times is not what women think.  These misconceptions lead to harassment claims.

Much of the problem with sexual harassment in the workplace lies in the fundamental difference in perceptions that men and women have of appropriate words and behavior. What men think is appropriate is many times completely opposite of what women think is appropriate. Misconceptions and misunderstandings lead to behaviors that are construed as hostile work place harassment. There are several specific behaviors that remain pervasive in the workplace.

The Complement

Many men have always thought that women like to be complemented on the way they look and this is true under the right circumstances and in the appropriate place. However, this is almost never true in the workplace. When a man complements a co-worker or a subordinate on their looks in the workplace it almost always is inappropriate. The man may have absolutely no malice in the complement, but to the woman it is belittling and or offensive. All complements in the workplace should remain work related if possible and never on appearance.

The Hug

Some people are just "huggers" and hug everyone as a greeting. However, men need to avoid this behavior in the workplace. Many men see women hugging women and immediately think all women are ok with hugging. Everyone needs to remember that not everyone is ok with hugging and feel like it is an invasion of their personal space. This is especially true of many different cultures. The best plan for anyone is the workplace is to avoid hugging altogether so that there is no chance it being misconstrued or offensive.

Terms of Endearment

Men, especially older men, have gotten into the habit of calling women honey, sweetie and the like. While this may be appropriate in their social circle, it is never appropriate in the workplace. The terms are belittling to most women and should never be used by either sex in the workplace.

Men and women simply have different perceptions of appropriate behavior. In all cases, if even one member of the workplace sees the behavior as inappropriate, then it should be avoided. The workplace should be comfortable for everyone and all employees need to be cognizant that what they think is okPsychology Articles, may not be seen as ok by the rest of the group. It will help avoid sexual harassment complaints and increase everyone's productivity.

Article Tags: Sexual Harassment

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Charlie Bentson King is a writer and producer of training videos.

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