Is it Harassment…?

“You smell nice”, “You look beautiful”, “Your spouse is lucky to have you” – common phrases that can be seen as a compliment or harassment. Let’s talk about a few scenarios,

  • Scenario 1 – Emotional Connection
    Damien walked into the office, and the first person he saw was Sewa. ‘Here we go again’, he thought as she walked towards him with a ‘seemingly’ innocent smile; ‘You look nice as usual’ she said. ‘Trophy cases were made for men like you’ and she walked away. Damien did not know how to feel about this comment, it felt wrong coming from Sewa (his long term colleague) but he would have given an arm to hear Fifi (the pretty new girl) say that to him.

    Is harassment ‘only’ when you don’t feel emotionally connected or attracted to the person?

  • Scenario 2 – Passive flirt
    Tania just realised something, she is always in the same project team as Naeto! At first, she brushed it off as a coincidence, later she attributed it to her drive and passion (given that she was the top pick for many projects), then she convinced herself that it was because they worked so well together; but now, she’s not so sure. For 2 years she’s been in the same meeting rooms and on several work trips with different teams of colleagues, with Naeto as the only constant. Whether those trips were convenient or not, he would insist on having her on the team, then compensate by increasing her allowance, or giving her extra time-off when the project was over or some other perk. As a Partner, Naeto gets to pick and choose his own projects and teams, so was he deliberate about picking her or what’s going on here? She mused internally as he gave her one of his rare smiles.

    Is it harassment ‘only’ when he outrightly says or does something inappropriate or is there such a thing as ‘passive harassment’?

  • Scenario 3 – Compliments?
    You know those people who always look so nice, not a hair out of place and seem like they walked out of a fashion magazine? I love it when people dress well, smell nice and look very well put-together; it’s my thing! It shows me that you value yourself and I try to appreciate that. I’ll always give a compliment, like ‘You look good’ ‘Those shoes are to-die-for’ ‘These colours were made for you’. Sometimes I get a compliment in return and at other times they look at me like I am a creepy stalker.
    Wait a minute! Have I been harassing people?

    Is it harassment if I only meant it as a compliment, but it gets lost in translation?

What is harassment to you? Can you help analyse the scenarios? Have you been in any of these situations in your office or workplace? Let’s talk in the.

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