"A 5-second video and series of photographs recently posted on YouTube.com and various blogs show Bush surprising Merkel at the G-8 Summit by quickly rubbing the back of her neck and shoulders. The chancellor immediately hunches her shoulders, throws her arms up and grimaces, though she appears to smile as Bush walks away."Some will say this is much ado about nothing, but I think Forbes made a good point when justifying its choice to revisit the topic of appropriate/inappropriate workplace touching:
"With President Bush's bizarre "massage" of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the recent G8 Summit, it might be a good time to review what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate touching at work. The rules may seem obvious, but if the president can get it wrong at a meeting of the world's most powerful leaders, chances are your co-workers are slipping up too."Bottom-line, for me: Bush should've known better and the fact that he didn't, speaks volumes.
This part of the Forbes article was particularly brilliant, I thought:
"Of course, boundaries and political correctness differ from culture to culture. A post on Arianna Huffington's blog says the media attention on the Bush-Merkel incident is hooey. After all, Bush is a Texan and they are a touchy-feely people. "Texans hug one another, kiss one another, place their hands on other's shoulders, and give hand squeezes all the time. You libs are always talking about understanding the culture of others and it's time for you to start understanding Texas culture. We're not cold and frigid like you Yankees are. "
Actually, the physical frigidity level of a culture should be taken into account. Northern Europeans--that includes Germany--are considered "low contact" cultures, says Bremer. So are many Asians. Remember, many don't even shake hands, they bow when greeting someone. Contrast that with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures that are extremely close talkers and regularly touch people.
When you take that into consideration, Bush may have a more receptive massage recipient in Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak."