Chapter Eight


Touch is one of the most significant and powerful body language signals there is Its power gets lost in the photographs I analyze for magazines and in many ways you do have to experience it for yourself to get the full effect Even the smallest touch will create a feeling bordering on embarrassment and even distress Ever sit on a train and find yourself cramped into a small space to avoid accidentally touching the foot of the stranger opposite you? Or did you ever go out socially and find yourself blown away when someone lightly touched your arm or your hair while they were talking to you?

Touch is so important we have to set social rules around the use of it If a colleague is especially stressed or emotional, we might pat them lightly on the shoulder or arm to show support, but anything else could even be construed as sexual harassment

Social touch might seem more relaxed but there are still strict boundaries, possibly even with a sexual partner

Just to make life more difficult, touch "rules" aren't global There are cultural differences around the world, often with people from warmer climates being slightly more tactile that those from colder climates Even in our own family environment touch can be self-regulatory I once worked with three sisters who existed with different touch rules Two of them were very tactile but they were always more formal with the third, even though their affection was equal

Most of your touch experience will have been established in your family unit, possibly long before you can remember New touch is usually created for sex, although you might use levels of tested touch to signal stages of friendship with new friends or business associates

Even your greeting rituals will be worked on a touch-test basis, which is probably subconscious For instance, you might meet a group of people, only two of whom you have met before and one of whom you're very friendly with As introductions are made you could perform very formal handshakes with the rest of the group but add a slight squeeze or an extra shake for the person you know For the person you know well you might use your free hand to add a pat or to use in the shake

Continue reading here: Touch testing

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