Harassment and aloha

Harassment and aloha

The other day I facilitated a Train-the-Trainer for experienced sexual harassment trainers. There were people from Hawaii, the continental US, Guam, American Samoa, and Korea. Some of them work in Hawaii, others in their home countries.

One issue we talked about was aloha hugs. Some people love them. Some don’t—including some Native Hawaiians who feel they should be reserved for family and close friends. Other people just don’t want to be touched by people they don’t know well.

I asked the group to put themselves in a bell-shaped curve. On one end, men and women stood apart from each other, many with their arms crossed. At the other end, men and women stood arm in arm.

Many of the trainers said later that was the most powerful part of the program. Though they knew, intellectually, that people are different, this exercise allowed them to really see it.

I think true aloha aligns with the Platinum Rule: treat people the way THEY want to be treated.

By R. Makana Risser Chai

Makana Risser Chai is a trainer, HR consultant and former Silicon Valley attorney who specializes in teaching courses on creating respectful workplaces by preventing harassment, bullying, disrespect, and unconscious bias.