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How do you handle touchy/feely coworkers?

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by Emergent Emergent (Member)

Emergent has 25 years experience and works as a Emergency Room RN.

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

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1 hour ago, Pixie.RN said:

I agree, no apologizing or explaining is really necessary! 

Exactly.  The person doing the touching and feeling is the one who has the apologizing to do.

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TracyRNMSN has 20 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Instructor/Program Director.

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Honestly, I don't have a problem with hugs, pats on the back or touching. I am a very touchy/feely person myself. But I would never take offense to anyone that didn't like it and said something. Some people have their "space" and I respect that and teach my students to also respect space. 

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On 5/8/2019 at 3:58 PM, Emergent said:

Yesterday a new gal in our department did the old friendly pat on the back that I HATE. Why do people think this is acceptable? I tried to shrink away a bit, but, these types are oblivious. And, you can't exactly say "I don't like casual touching, thanks anyways but don't do it again. "

Now I'm feeling a bit negative about this woman. I want to be friendly and welcoming to newcomers, which I have to her, but not if it encourages this type of thing.

Any good strategies out there?

"I don't like to be touched."

 

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and works as a RN Supervisor.

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On 5/9/2019 at 8:26 AM, socal212 said:

That’s soooo strange! Why wouldn’t she just stop hugging people? I’m fine with a quick pat on the arm or shoulder but why do some people desperately need to enclose you in their arms??

I had a similar situation where a male coworker gave a female coworker a lighthearted  “boop” on the top of her head. He was making a joke and literally just gave her one pat on the top of her head. Well, this upset her and she went to HR and he was fired. Less than a year before retirement. 

 

 

Well that seems pretty harsh. Unless there was a pattern of complaints firing somebody for a casual touch is lousy.

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So this is going to sound weird....to me it depends on the co-worker! I am not a hug-giver myself by nature but. We have some nurses where I work, who have been nurses longer than I have been alive, who are the hardest working and most amazing nurses, and they have already forgotten more about nursing than I will probably ever know, they have backbones of steel and The Voice like Bene Gesserit (Dune...) and if one of them is glad to see me and hugs me, its because Im special..it makes my day. Everyone else, dont touch me. LOL.

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RNNPICU has 13 years experience.

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Hi.

To those who offered the OP of giving a startled response or exaggerated startled response, that may not truly work for some people.  I think you just have to be upfront and just simply say, I don't like to be touched, please respect my personal space.  Giving a startled response may not be enough, especially if the hugger or toucher may just believe they caught you off-guard.  

Since this is someone new to you, and someone you will be working with, just let them know. I like to give hugs, or high fives.  I had one person that simply said when hugs were going around, I really don't like to be hugged or touched, thank you.  It wasn't a big deal after that, everyone respected that space.  I don't agree with the reaction response because it doesn't ever address upfront the fact that you don't like to be touched.  

 

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On 5/9/2019 at 11:28 PM, Emergent said:

Okay, how about something like this: "Hey, sorry, I'm a little uptight about being touched. I tried to overcome this phobia, but it just makes me feel so uncomfortable. Thanks, I guess everyone's different."

There’s nothing to be sorry for.

You’re not being uptight.

Like pixie, this pixie gets picked up quite a bit because she’s vertically challenged. I’m also not a hugger, and I dislike being touched (childhood trauma plays a role). I’m not the least bit apologetic when I stop someone in their tracks - it’s not a phobia, it’s a preference.

You owe no one an apology nor explanation. Short and sweet: “please don’t ‘xyz.’ Thanks.”

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herring_RN works as a retired registered nurse.

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Our city councilman liked to hug. He would open his arms and give a smile. If the person didn't accept the hug he shook hands. 

The first time I met him I had attended a city council meeting. Sfter the meeting I shook his hand. After working with him on nursing issues we hugged "hello" and "good bye." He died of cancer a couple years ago. Here he was gugging a neighbor at the farmer's market:

Rosendahl%20hugRWK2609_zpsb0tnhz54.jpg

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

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5 hours ago, kbrn2002 said:

Well that seems pretty harsh. Unless there was a pattern of complaints firing somebody for a casual touch is lousy.

You don't know if there's been a problem of complaints.  Disciplinary matters are confidential.  The "casual toucher" may have been asked several times to cease and desist.  

Casual touching may be grooming behavior . . . the toucher is grooming the touchee to ignore or disregard her boundaries paving the way for less casual touching.  If someone wants not to be touched, has communicated that desire to the toucher and the toucher fails to cease and desist, that touching is no longer casual, but problematic.  

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hawaiicarl has 28 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Charge Nurse.

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Sort of a weird reverse here, I am uncomfortable being touchy feely, but often situations seem to warrant it.  Like where I tell a family their loved one has died they reach up and hug me.  Totally appropriate, totally makes me uncomfortable, how long do we hug, when do I pull back, is it a full body press or a lean in non-sincere thing?  I try to do compassionate touching, but it just feels so awkward to me.  You know, the pat on the hand as the wife of 55 years tells me how strong her dying husband is, that kind of thing.  You'd think after 30 years in nursing I would be better at it  🙄

Cheers

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Emergent has 25 years experience and works as a Emergency Room RN.

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I guess my conflict about this is, there are some people I am on occasional touching terms with.  But this evolved over time. But, when someone gets familiar too quickly, it's intrusive and invasive of my bubble. 

If I tell this gal 'no touching', then she sees me exchange an occasional touch with another coworker, it would make her feel disliked or left out. 

I guess I feel like the touchy feelies devalue touching by doing it all the time. To me, it is more meaningful and not done lightly or indiscriminately. If you do it all the time, it isn't very special. 

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RNNPICU has 13 years experience.

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3 hours ago, Emergent said:

I guess my conflict about this is, there are some people I am on occasional touching terms with.  But this evolved over time. But, when someone gets familiar too quickly, it's intrusive and invasive of my bubble. 

If I tell this gal 'no touching', then she sees me exchange an occasional touch with another coworker, it would make her feel disliked or left out. 

I guess I feel like the touchy feelies devalue touching by doing it all the time. To me, it is more meaningful and not done lightly or indiscriminately. If you do it all the time, it isn't very special. 

The part I bolded is what you should then say.  Put like this, it really says it all, especially your feelings towards touch.  I think if phrased like this, it gives you the option to extend a touch if and when you are ready for that level of familiarity. Just let her know with those words.    

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