You’re cute. You’re beautiful. You look good. #ShutUp

Last week I had lunch with someone I consider to be a friend and a mentor in the world of design. I admire him deeply and I learn something every time we talk. My hair was in a bun because I wear my hair in a bun to work, every single day. That morning, my hairband had snapped and I was left — bun-less. As I walked around the office, every guy I talked to seemed to have an innocent comment — you look good today, did you dress-up?, wow, that’s different… While I understand these men were coming from a good place and not one of them was harassing me or doing anything wrong, I still didn’t appreciate the comments.

Back to lunch, I’d managed to find a rubber band, and I’m sitting with this designer who could chew me up and spit me out in any intellectual battle. The conversations starts on #MeToo, sexual harassment, and he asks “What kind of touch is ok?” For a moment, I’m speechless because I’ve never heard these words uttered out of a man’s mouth before. And, perhaps I hadn’t considered the question. Personally, knowing I feel uncomfortable when I’m touched on the thigh, is a far cry from being able to set universal rules.

So, I start with “for me”. For me, in business, I only want to be touched when it’s mutual — a hand shake, a high-five, even a hug — any touch where I’m choosing to actively participate has my approval. If I’m touched on the shoulder at work, in a totally innocent way, I’m automatically uncomfortable. I didn’t approve that action, I didn’t participate, and it violated my space bubble. While, there’s nothing wrong with a touch on the shoulder, and it’s often the habit of an exceptionally charming human, #NoThankYou.

And, this is how I feel about comments like — you’re cute, you’re beautiful, you look good today, #NoThankYou. Those are comments for your Tinder date, my friends (except for “cute” which is always a bad idea). At work, try something like:

What an exceptional insight, this will change how our company operates.
You’re responsible for our 10x in revenue, thank you.
Your work reminds me of Luke Wroblewski.
Jeff Bezos should really see this.

Things got a bit dreamy with Mr. Bezos. The point remains, when the context is work, the conversations should be work. We know a woman’s hard body, pretty face, or sexy ass should never be the topic of conversation. But, telling her she looks good at work is an insult because it neglects her more relevant and important characteristics of power, intelligence, insightfulness…

If you’re still unclear, go with The Rock Test.

PS: I’m a hypocrite because it’s part of my natural humanness to touch other humans when we’re interacting, whether we’re at work or not. Considering the current climate, I believe it shouldn’t be done. #WorkInProgress