Covid-19 stay-at-home reminder: "Stepped on toes" is strictly metaphorical.
Are your toes stepped on occasionally? If not, you are not close enough together.
While I was tuning a piano, the owner was having difficulty moving a bookcase across the living room rug. When I stood up from the piano to assist, she snapped "why should you help me?" This was not ill will; it was the independence of a young female who was not about to depend on an older male for help. She did look athletic and was likely as strong as I was. Despite her logic, the move would have been sooner accomplished by two people. While she meant well, my toes were slightly stepped on by the rebuff.
At a different home, a customer greeted me at the entrance with a request that I carry a bucket of roofing tar to the third floor where it was needed. The difference in our ages made it evident that I was the one better suited to the task. She was a regular customer who knew that my toes were not being stepped on by her request.
These occasions of helping outside my professional expertise are social incidents, not business interactions. Customers know that I am fulfilled by being helpful. My toes feel stepped on when people do not expect random kindness. In social circles there is always the prospect that a gesture might be misunderstood. Having no interaction is also a gesture that can offend.
We all depend on socializing. No extent of isolation makes it impossible for our toes to be stepped on. We are required to go forward with time and expected to be tolerant moving ahead. By doing so, we reduce aggression and cultivate a kinder environment conducive to growth. Being gracious givers and receivers, understanding of each other's idiosyncrasies, is a part of happy navigation.
Photo by Viktor Hanacek picjumbo.com