Sexual Harassment Training – How to Avoid Being the Harasser

Sexual Harassment

Sometimes you want to compliment someone about their new outfit, or makeup style, or anything else that is seemingly innocent. You need to be careful with compliments in the workplace and how you say them to avoid being accused of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a serious offense, and most people who are doing it know exactly what they are doing. Others who are accused of it are just clueless to what they are doing.

The clueless ones are the ones that will be talked about in this article about sexual harassment training. This type of person is probably the one that needs sexual harassment trainings more than anyone else because they just do not realize they are being rude and insensitive. They need all the help that they can get to avoid making mistakes in the workplace.

These people need to be taught explicitly how to behave and what to do and what not to do. Gentle reminders do not help, and gentle reprimands do not do any good, either. They must be taught specifically and need to be reprimanded the same as one who sexually harasses with intent. It does not matter if the person is doing it intentionally or not, another person was hurt by their actions.

Sexual Harassment Definition

The clueless person needs to be given a clear definition about what sexual harassment is and how to avoid it. They need to be told that sexual harassment is advances that are unwanted and that are either physical or verbal in nature. That sexual harassment can occur when you are complimenting someone in a way that makes the other person feel uncomfortable. If the clueless person is told that they are making the victim uncomfortable, and continues to speak or touch, there needs to be consequences.


The clueless person needs to know that there are federal, state, and local laws, and company policies that are against sexual harassment in any form. For example, the federal law states that it is not legal for anyone to be harassed, even if that person is just an applicant, because of that person’s sex or sexual orientation. Harassment can include any sexual advances that are unwelcome, sexual favor requests, or any other harassment that is of a sexual nature. If the clueless person compliments another person’s blouse while leering at her breasts, that can be construed as sexual harassment. This is illegal under federal and state laws, and usually against company policy, as well.

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  1. Rely on Courtesy

Rely on courtesy and not contact to avoid being accused of sexual harassment. You can verbally praise and encourage a co-worker without touching them on the back or giving hugs, which can be misconstrued.

  1. Use Same Sex Standards

Use the same sex standards and ask yourself – would you tell a person of the same sex that you like something about them. For example, would you tell another man that you like the way he fixes his hair, or as a woman would you tell another woman that you like her muscles? If not, do not do it to a person of the opposite sex.

  1. Candid Camera Test

Would you be willing to do the behavior on video camera so that it could be reviewed later? If the answer is no, do not do it.

  1. Compliment Merit – Not Appearance

Compliment a person on the work they have done, not on their appearance. If you can do that you can avoid being called into the office for sexual harassment: You want to make sure that you are being nice and not being creepy.

  1. Think About How It Would Look in Print

Think about how what you are saying or doing would look in print. If you are telling a joke, how would it look in print? Would the joke be offensive to any gender, ethnic group, race, or occupation? If so, do not say it.

  1. Back Off

Sometimes just being in someone’s personal space can bring up charges of sexual harassment. Pretend that you have a large hula hoop around you – you cannot get any closer than the hoop. If you realize you are too close, back off.

  1. Speak Up

Do not be afraid to speak up if someone is offending you or you feel that you are being harassed. If the offender continues, it is time to report them. If you are the offender and you are asked to stop – then stop.

  1. Take Responsibility for Yor Behavior

Sometimes saying “I’m sorry” is not enough, you must show that you are sorry by changing your actions. If you were told once that you are offending someone, do not repeat that behavior.

  1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Before you do or say something, put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if someone did that action to you? Would you be offended or hurt? If so, do not do it.