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Communication Bizarre Behaviors

When one of my co-workers emphasizes a point with me, he taps me on the arm. He does this to everyone, and most people do not like it. He is a good guy and we don’t want to upset him, but is there a way to get him to stop?

In the workplace, it is rewarding to be tapped for a promotion or a raise, but not to be tapped by someone who wants to emphasize a point. The irony is that in most cases when people are tapped, the point that is being made is lost. People stop listening and start wondering why they are being touched.

In some cultures and families, this type of touching is quite common and innocuous. It is often used in the exact type of circumstance that you describe, namely as a means to underline whatever is being said. However, your workplace has its own culture and rules, and those are the guidelines for everyone to follow.

If this individual is truly a “good guy,” you should meet with him. Let him know how much you and your associates enjoy working with him, and then pose a question: “If there is a step you could take to improve the way we work together, would you be interested?” When he says, “Yes,” be candid and tell him your concern.

If he is that good guy, he will get the message. Just be sure you do not tap him to make your point.

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