In life, don’t we all want more happiness and less horrible? More amazing and less annoying? More personal space and less in-your-face? Did I hear a “Hell yeah!”? I thought so. Well, me too!
I’m feeling the need to help you understand why a simple social interaction can stir up the bubbling anxiety In every cell of my body. Yep. There is something that happens to me on a regular basis and we need to have a conversation about it.
Let me start by saying that I know you all mean well, I really, really do. But, for. the. love. When you approach me, please don’t jump on me like a horny rottweiler looking for a good time! Don’t grab my waist, arms or shoulders, with a G.I. Joe kung-fu grip, in an attempt to pull me towards you. Or, go in for the awkward “half hug” squeeze. Don’t get me wrong, I love when my friends and family want to talk to me, but I’m not a fan of random hands or unexpected touching of any kind without someone telling me who they are FIRST. My god people, give me some identification and warning!! If you don’t, It’s not only annoying, but it’s also extremely unnerving to me!
So, here’s where I’m going to help you, which will help me as well. You just need to remember four simple words – “Talk Before You Touch”! It’s an easy concept, and I’m going to break it down into four parts for you guys! When you understand where I’m coming from as a blind person, it will make social Interactions more comfortable for all of us.
1. When approaching someone who is blind, like me, please stop at least a foot or two away from us. I’m serious. it’s called personal space and I happen to like my space very much! I don’t want you so close that I can smell what you had for lunch or your horrible body odor. If I can smell you, you’re too damn close. — No touching is happening at this point.
2. If you want to get our attention, please speak up and talk to us. Even if we know each other, you should introduce yourself. Start the greeting with “Hi Maria, it’s Robin!” It’s important to say my name because it lets me know you are talking to ME. I can’t see you looking My way, so hearing my name is a great attention-getter! — And still, there is no touchy feely going on.
3. Give me a moment to acknowledge you with my greeting. If I’m not recognizing who you are, give me a last name or a hint! Help a blind girl out here! When we make that verbal connection, then I’m okay with interacting with you. — No, no, no. Don’t touch yet.
4. At this point in our greeting, and only at this point, will I feel comfortable with a handshake, or a touch to the shoulder or arm if you wish to do so. I might even say “Hey (your name here), give me a hug!” Yeah… I might if I know you pretty well. — Oh hot diggity damn! Permission to touch is granted!
I don’t want to scare anybody off… I love each and every person that surrounds me in this unexpected life. You just wouldn’t know that this is my preferred greeting protocol if I didn’t tell you. I suspect some people in the blind and visually impaired community may relate to this social issue, or some may think I’m totally uptight. Either way… I know what works for me. So, remember the four words with the four parts…“Talk Before You Touch” – and life will be so much more pleasant for everyone involved. xx