So I was talking to my boss in the hallway today. During part of the conversation I turned to face somewhere to the left side of him for ~ 20 seconds, I think I got restless/bored from standing still. He curtly/angrily demanded that I face him when talking. I was quite offended. To me I thought that it was almost like a parent chiding their kid. Was I overreacting and does he have a good point or was he being out of line?

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    Hello pi a, unfortunately, we can't judge if something was rude or not and we can't judge if you were overreacting or not. However, if there is something you wish you had told your boss when he asked you to "look at me", we can help you formulate that in a tactful way. So feel free to edit your question to ask for that instead (otherwise, I am afraid it will be closed) – Ael Oct 5 '20 at 8:14
  • Somehow related question: Why do people want eye contact when talking? – Ael Oct 5 '20 at 9:48
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    Maybe you could be more precise than "I turned to face somewhere to the left side of him". How long ? What were you looking at ? Who was talking at the moment ? If I talk to someone, I would not turn around when he is talking, I would try to at least have my body at 45° to him and other things to appear attentive to our conversation. – Fanie Void Oct 5 '20 at 15:39

It is highly desirable to face the person you are talking to. Facing away transmits the message that the person you talk to is not important to you.

I was quite offended.

You should not be. As long as your boss just made a statement, there is nothing offensive in this.

To me I thought that it was almost like a parent chiding their kid.

From the point of view of your boss, he was only providing you feedback and some guidance. He proceeded very good.

We had a university colleague who would face away when shaking hands with somebody - pretty much as a rule. For a while we ignored him, but in time we would loudly "give feedback" to him (in a friendly / joking way): "John, please look at the person when you shake hands!!"

I cannot tell for sure if things improved (university ended, we split ways), but facing the person you interact with is highly appreciated (while the opposite is quite frowned upon).

During part of the conversation I turned to face somewhere to the left side of him.

If you turn your face occasionally during speaking, should be OK, as long as it is only for a few seconds. It is human nature to not maintain statue-like position.

Since you turned long term away from him, that was not OK, and he was more on the side of being right, compared to you.

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    Didn't downvote, but I'm not sure if Boss just made a statement when OP wrote "He curtly demanded" to face him when describing the action. That's difficult to judge as we only have OP point of view of the situation. – Fanie Void Oct 5 '20 at 14:43
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    I see. But even so, the boss had more rights to feel offended. IMO – virolino Oct 5 '20 at 15:11
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    I agree with you. If OP did not look at Boss for a long time, or was appearing dimissive, it would be inapropriate. I fear the situation is too vaguely described and we can only make assumptions... – Fanie Void Oct 5 '20 at 15:40

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