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In a world where reputations, careers, and even jail, can rest on “he said; she said” no-one is safe from #MeToo. Here are some tips for keeping as secure as possible.

Recognise power

From Rolf Harris to Harvey Weinstein it is power that has landed these men in trouble; rightly or wrongly. Even the smallest organisation is awash with power. Acceptance into the workplace, salaries, promotion, even livelihoods and careers are all dependent on our relationships with others in the workplace. That means depending on the power of others. In particular, if you are the employer others will depend on your power. Abuse of power arises when we use it to ignore the rights, dignity and feelings of others. To be safe, be continually conscious of your own power and its effects on others.

Be prepared to take “No” for an answer

In business not being prepared to take “no” as an answer can get you a sale. In the game of life it can be a winner. But in workplace relationships it can be dangerous. It is a matter of reading the signs. Again, particularly, be aware of your own power and the need to avoid abusing it. Be aware too that you can be used. Rely on the relationship skills we have all had to learn.

Respect personal space

As a delegate on a recent “wellness” course we were encouraged to make physical contact including hugging fellow delegates. When later I stumbled upon a male delegate in a different context we shocked others around us by hugging! Despite my wellness course, I suggest that invading the space of others is problematic and best avoided.

Avoid sexual jokes

Humour is personal. My sense of humour may well not be yours and vice-versa. That applies especially when the humour has sexual undertones or innuendo. At risk of being judged a prude, I recommend that sexual humour is not used at work, in the pub afterwards or at the Christmas party.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice