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Touch is human, has been for multi-thousands of years. Sure bad people do things in a bad way. That’s not what we are talking about here in the use of good, effective touch.

Physical touch is a communication tool few people take advantage of. It can help you bond with people, not just communicate. Yes, you can touch strangers at a networking event if you do it with the right attitude and technique. Here are some tips on effective use of touch in a business context.

  • Reach out an touch the person you’re talking to. Maintain physical contact for a split second as you speak directly to the person.
  • Place your hand a remove it in an equally purposeful and definite manner on an acceptable part of the body: shoulder, elbow, forearm, hand.
  • Relax, smile, and look as if you expect the other person to accept the touch in the manner you gave it (supportive, encouraging, caring, respectful).
  • Do not use touch with any intimate overtones. Be sensitive to the person’s reactions.
  • Above all, be consistent. Use touch with men and women, young and old, the likeable and the not-so-likeable.

Even if you’re skeptical about this, try it to test the effect. You may be amazed. Five minutes effective communication accompanied by the appropriate touch can be worth five months of hard work.


Debra Benton is co-author of The Leadership Mind Switch (McGraw-Hill, 2017)

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