No, No, Manolo! Stick To Shoes!

Not until finally a short while ago did I know that Manolo Blahnik was the shoe king. Someplace in the recesses of my head, the few situations that I listened to his title I puzzled him with Manute Bol, the 7-foot, 7- inch, 225-pound NBA star.  I know — really unfortunate.

But I think I know the place of work really well, and when I occurred to go through an job interview with him a short while ago, I discovered to my utter surprise that he never ever played skilled basketball (and likely has never ever been about 7 feet tall — even in his highest sneakers). But he shared an progressively widespread place of work problem: can I nonetheless compliment gals at function, or could that be regarded sexual harassment?

I Cannot Say “How Superb You Look”

Evidently, the famed shoe designer explained to an interviewer “about how he struggles with being aware of what he can say …  ‘I can’t say, ‘How amazing you seem.’  I can’t spend compliments … simply because it’s possible it can be referred to as sexual harassment.’”

He claimed that “he was ‘given a listing of points he can’t say to people’ for dread of crossing a line.” But he noted that “the listing was not supplied to him specifically, incorporating ‘somebody gave it to everyone.’”

Regardless of what that indicates.

Manolo Blahnik — You Are Not By yourself!

I posted a piece in this article a calendar year back referred to as, “Sexual Jokes and Banter At The Water Cooler: Not Great At All!” The general takeaway was that

We all like to joke, tease, prank, and – facial area it – it sometimes gets a little bit out of regulate, and the language gets a minimal “salty.” All in superior pleasurable, in the correct area and context. But not in the place of work. Even by the water cooler.

“A Compliment Is Not A Uncomplicated Thing”

I spent a lot of time in that article speaking about compliments or informal remarks produced in the place of work, these types of as, “Hey, I like your gown,” or, “You seem like you have been functioning out,” and requested regardless of whether this could be regarded sexual harassment, and if a person these types of comment is taboo – “or does it become taboo if performed repeatedly?”

A compliment is not a uncomplicated issue think about what a compliment may possibly be observed as or utilized for in the place of work, which is commonly male-dominated. It may possibly be meant as an harmless remark, or it may possibly replicate the electricity differential concerning two people. Not so uncomplicated.

A lot of points have changed due to the fact that past article, and Manolo is, certainly, not on your own. The #MeToo motion, the range of well-acknowledged and strong male executives, famous people, and politicians brought down by allegations of sexual harassment, and the rising electricity of gals in politics and organization.  Has all of this changed the nature of place of work compliments and is Manolo correct to be concerned?

“You Know Absolutely nothing About What Many others Working experience Until You Have Expert It”

Past November, I posted a three-part dialogue with my D.C. work associate, Amy Epstein Gluck (affectionately acknowledged, at minimum to me, as “the Notorious AEG”), in which I experienced her comment on what I assumed was a thoughtful article that I experienced beforehand posted on recommendations to steer clear of becoming a place of work harasser. The dialogue with Amy taught me a lot. My own takeaway from it was that no issue how a great deal you think you are enlightened, progressive and range-minded, you know absolutely nothing about what other individuals experience unless you have knowledgeable it.

For case in point, I experienced beforehand posted as a “tip” the break-out estimate higher than that “a compliment is not a uncomplicated issue,” and concluded right after careful (I assumed) evaluation that as to place of work compliments, “Don’t do it. The stakes are far too significant!”

That goes for you far too, Manolo!

“They Need to Consider How It May well Audio To A Woman”

But wait!

Amy rightfully took me to process for this conclusion, and due to the fact I know that Manolo likely reads this blog, and Amy likely wears — or desires to wear — Manolos (sorry, Amy — have I truly discovered absolutely nothing??) her full comment from that dialogue is my answer to very poor Manolo:

I think the concern with compliments is far more like declaring, “I like your top” when a lady is exhibiting even a trace of cleavage. Or declaring, “Wow, you seem good” or anything identical although hunting a lady up and down or at a unique human body section so that it is clear you are checking out her human body.

Also, nevertheless there’s absolutely nothing mistaken with hunting a lady in the eye and declaring she appears pleasant, I think what you may possibly have meant to say is do not give compliments or comment about a woman’s look. Primarily if you would not say the exact — in terms or by non-verbal cues — to a male colleague.

Immediately after all, you compliment me all the time — fantastic article, superior function, great piece, etc., and that’s not sexual harassment. Consider qualifying your no compliments rule and most likely put it like this: Men really should examine them selves just before they talk or act around gals, most likely inquiring them selves, “How would I really feel if my wife’s male colleague spoke or acted this way to her?”

They really should think about how it may sound to a lady.

Takeaway

Well, there is no vibrant line, and the terms, information, and tone utilized, as well as facial expressions and posture, will have to all be taken in context.  As in daily life.  “Consider how it may sound to a lady.”

So, to Manolo (and to all of us who share his problems), I say: Sorry, Manolo — daily life is tricky certainly.  Better adhere to sneakers — unless you listen to Amy, go away the compliments to other individuals.


richard-b-cohenRichard B. Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complicated organization and work disputes for almost 40 decades, and is a associate in the NYC place of work of the national “cloud” regulation firm FisherBroyles. He is the creator and writer of his firm’s Employment Discrimination blog, and received an award from the American Bar Association for his blog posts. You can get to him at Richard.Cohen@fisherbroyles.com and abide by him on Twitter at @richard09535496.

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