People touching one another is almost as common as people talking to each other.
However, certain parts of the body might raise questions in your mind; like when someone touches your shoulder.
So, If your coworker recently touched your shoulder, you may be wondering why or be thinking about what it means.
Your coworker coming in contact with you or touching your shoulder isn’t something that should alarm you.
However, depending on how the contact was made and the body language involved, it’s customary to wonder why.
In this post, I’ll help you figure out why your coworker touches your shoulder. In the end, you’ll know the things you can do when your colleague touches your shoulder
8 Reasons Why Your Coworker Touches Your Shoulder
There are several reasons why your coworker might touch your shoulder. The meaning can vary depending on the context, so it’s important to consider some factors.
You’ve to take note of their body language, what occasion it takes place and their typical behavior, and the person involved.
Usually, a shoulder touch expresses support, comfort, encouragement, and friendliness.
Also, it can be used to express an attraction. So, it’s important to consider the important factors to decipher the reasons correctly. Below are why your coworker touches your shoulder:
They’re Being Friendly
One of the major reasons a coworker will touch your shoulder is to show their friendliness.
Friends are often comfortable with each other, and so a coworker who’s a friend can touch your shoulder whenever he’s close by as a show of friendship. This gesture is very common among males.
Touching the shoulder is one of the ways men greet their fellow men. So, it isn’t out of place if your male colleague touches your shoulder.
A man can also greet a woman this way and vice versa as an act of friendship. In addition, your coworker can also touch your shoulder to extend an arm of friendship.
Perhaps your relationship with them is just a professional and casual one; if they want to become more acquainted with you, touching the shoulder is one way to show that.
If it’s the case that they’re being friendly, they’d probably touch your shoulder while conversing with you or greeting you.
It’s Their Usual Behavior
Another major reason why your coworker touches your shoulder is that it’s their usual behavior. Your colleague at work may have a culture of putting a hand on people’s shoulders while talking with them.
Perhaps it’s something they do subconsciously, so they might not even be thinking about it, except you call their attention.
So, if this is the case, you’d notice they do so with almost everyone, either while conversing with them or passing a greeting. Also, their body language wouldn’t suggest an attraction or flirtation.
They Want to Get Your Attention
Another plausible reason why your coworker might touch your shoulder is to call your attention. It isn’t out of place to touch someone to get their attention.
So, your coworker can touch your shoulder if they need your attention. This gesture is usually because you’re close by, and naturally, they reach to touch you instead of calling your name.
If this is the case, the hand won’t remain on the shoulder for more than a second; it’s usually a pat on the shoulder when they wish to get your attention.
They’re Attracted to You
When people are attracted to you, they would look for opportunities to be close to you and make contact with your body. So, if your coworker touches your shoulder, it could be because they find you attractive.
If it’s the case that they find you attractive, they’d show several signs and body language First, how close were they? If they’re attracted to you, they’d want to be as close as possible.
Did their arm linger on your shoulder more than necessary? Another thing you should watch out for is if they close the space between you two and allow their arm to linger over your shoulder.
Also, they’d tend to match your gaze or have dilated pupils with their hands on your shoulder. Also, watch out for their behavior generally.
If they steal glances at you or tend to act shy around you, then they could’ve touched your shoulder because they’re attracted to you.
Another reason a coworker will touch your shoulder is to show authority. People tend to touch people when they want to impose their authority.
Probably your colleague at work feels they’re better or is egoistical, they could touch your shoulder to assert such authority or qualities. If such is the case, you’d notice other domineering attitudes.
They could touch other things, probably things on your table, or even authoritatively sit on the table.
Also, they could angle their chin upwards while they talk to you, and place their hands in their pockets.
In addition, their voice and facial expression are something to take note of. They’d speak in a bored, flat, or authoritative voice. They’d likely send you on errands or be direct when speaking.
They’re Showing Support or Reassuring You
When people want to show support or reassure you, the shoulder is one of the places to make contact. So, a coworker can place their hand on your shoulder to show their support or to give reassurance.
If this is the case, then they would do so when you are both discussing in that direction.
So, think about the conversation you were having. If it’s one when you’re discussing a problem with them, then they would’ve patted your shoulder or placed their arm over it to emphasize their support for you.
They’re Comforting You
Comfort is also one of the reasons a coworker would place their hand on your shoulder.
People usually hold people to themselves when comforting them and the shoulder is one of the places they initiate the contact.
So, if your coworker places their hand on your shoulder, it could be they’re comforting you.
If this is the case, then it would be you were sharing your problems, pains, or feelings with them and they held you by the shoulder to comfort you.
Also, it could be a pat on the shoulder to console you, especially if it’s between two males.
They’re Emphasizing a Point
Another reason a coworker may place their hand on your shoulder is if they’re emphasizing a point.
When people are engrossed in a conversation, making contact is one of the gestures they make when they want to emphasize a point.
If this is the case, then it would be you both were having a discussion in which they probably got carried away or they got emotional. They could also touch your shoulder in excitement.
What to Do When a Coworker Touches Your Shoulder
There are different things you can do when a coworker touches your shoulder. First, understanding what was taking place when it happened is an important thing to take note of to help you understand better.
Also, you can watch out for how they behaved with others and their body language.
In addition, you can flirt with them if you think they’re flirting, smile at them, or tell them if it makes you uncomfortable.
Think About What Took Place
When your coworker touches your shoulder and you’re confused about what it means, the first thing to do is to think about what took place when the action happened.
This action can help you understand what it means and know if there’s anything else to do.
If they were greeting you or having a conversation with you it could be safe to conclude it’s a friendly gesture.
Also, did they need your attention? This could also be another reason why they touched your shoulder.
In addition, were they sign they were trying to be domineering? Knowing all of these can influence your next course of action.
Think About How They Behave with Others
The next thing you should do when your coworker touches your shoulder is to think about how they behave with others. It could be that it is in their nature to do so, so you can check out this gesture with others.
If you notice they also touch the shoulder of other colleagues, it’s okay to believe it’s just in their nature. Also, they could do so, even with others because they’ve got a domineering attitude.
However, if you notice they only do so with you, then they may find you attractive or are seeking your friendship.
Also, If it’s a one-time thing, they probably could’ve been showing support. So, comparing their behavior with you and with others is important to help you know what you should do next.
Watch Out for Their Body Language
Body language tells a lot. Someone might tell lies with their lips, but it’s very difficult to deceive with body language.
So if your coworker touches your shoulder, what was the body language while they were at it and even after? Did they show signs that they’re attracted to you?
Did their hand linger on your shoulder than it was necessary? Did they move the hand to your waist or your chest? Did they make eye contact while at it?
If these took place, then it’s obvious they’re showing signs that they want through flirting. Also, if they always look for ways to spend time with you, then it’s a sign they like you.
Smile at Them
When your coworker touches your shoulder and you’re very comfortable with it, you can smile at them.
For instance, If they touch your shoulder while greeting you, you can relax and return the gesture with a smile to express that you’re okay with it.
Smiling will let them know that they’re not crossing their boundaries with you.
Flirt with Them
Another thing you can do when your coworker touches your shoulder is to flirt with them. If they are flirty while touching your shoulder, you can do so too if it doesn’t bother you.
You can also flirt to let them know that you’re attracted to them. Subtle flirting in the workplace wouldn’t do any harm. There are different ways you can flirt with your co-worker when they touch your shoulder.
- Lean into them: when your coworker put a friendly arm around your shoulder, you can lean into them and can also turn your face to them
- Look them in the eyes while smiling
- Place your arm around the waist and hold them close
- Bite your lips while staring at them
Tell Them About How You Feel About It
When your coworker touches your shoulder and you aren’t comfortable with it, you can let them know you aren’t comfortable with it. First, you should understand the intention.
If it was only a pat on the shoulder to call your attention, then that shouldn’t be a problem, except it is to you. However, if they do it while talking to you or as a greeting and it doesn’t sit well with you, by all means, let them know.
You shouldn’t hesitate to tell them how it makes you feel. You can go about it with the following:
- Can you not do that when you talk to me?
- Can you simply call my name?
- I’d prefer you don’t touch my shoulder.
There are different things it can mean when your coworker touches your shoulder. It could be out of friendliness, to call your attention, to emphasize a point, or to display authority.
Also, your coworker can touch your shoulder when they want to show their support, reassure you, or comfort you. In addition, they can do it because they’re attracted to you.
When this happens, you should take note of what was going on at the moment, their body language, and how they behave with others.
And if you’re okay with the act, you can smile at them or flirt with them as the case may be.
However, don’t hesitate to let them know when it makes you uncomfortable.