If you are not sure if something is appropriate behavior, it probably isn’t. Each person who you interact with gets to define for himself or herself where that line is. There are cultural differences and age differences.
Impact matters more than intent.
If you didn’t realize that your behavior would have a negative impact, that is your responsibility. Problems happen when we presume that our way of being is ok with everyone, when we assume that our way of thinking or behaving is the norm. This is particularly problematic when the other person is less empowered or is a member of a minority group.
- If you are a teacher or volunteer, and ask a student for their email address or phone number, it may be interpreted as creepy or stalking OR it may be a friendly follow-up. Be aware that you may not detect the difference. If you just met the other person for the first time, consider offering your contact info, instead of requesting theirs.