We all crave to be touched. Often, hospitals provide volunteers to rock infants that are not being provided the necessary endearments of love from parents that are unable to visit. Studies have continually shown the need for the attribution of love through the sensory of touch. As we spend more and more time in our cubicle and in front of the computer monitor, the stimulation of the physical touch is craved.
The hand can also be used to make a physical connection with another person. This is called haptics. When we are touched appropriately, we develop a positive reaction and deepen the rapport. In strained relationships, touching is minimized or only for social graces. Quite often, strained relationships will achieve touching with fingertips, as opposed to the full hand touch. Females will generally touch more than males. Just watch the average social gatherings of a girls’ night out. There is a lot of touching among friends. Males tend to be reluctant to touch females, fearing the wrong impression and being shackled in a jail cell.
A supervisor may provide a haptic touch of encouragement or reassurance to a subordinate. It might be a pat on the upper back or the shoulder for a job well done. I cannot stress enough caution in this area. In this age of sexual harassment lawsuits, a touch witnessed by others, could be construed as a platform for litigious intentions. When in doubt, don’t.
While conducting interviews of suspects, on occasion when the situation was warranted, I might touch the knee region or the upper arm to the shoulder with a reassuring touch. This developed an unconscious bond. I was letting them know, it was all right to relieve their anxiety in the form of a confession.
Do not be a lingerer. Lingerers can be viewed as creepy. Subordinates should never touch a boss unless a moment of levity occurs and the boss is cracking a joke. You reach up and touch their arm for emphasis of the humor.
The gentle touch on the arm develops a bond. I was eating at Stonewood Grill and I observed this behavior. The server, who was doing an excellent job as always, gently touched my bicep in response to a lighter moment. Did that earn her a higher tip? It did not hurt. Most people would not even notice that gentle fleeting touch, but your brain felt the touch. Studies support this “Midas Touch” theory of non-sexual touching. Tips increase for the servers, who provide a gentle unassuming touch on the hand or shoulder of their customer.
On another occasion at the same restaurant, I watched an elderly man sitting by himself eating. I felt sorry for him eating without company. Then I watched the server sit down across from him and engage in some conversation for a couple of minutes. I thought what a nice gesture. As he stood up, he patted the customer on the shoulder. I pointed this out to my family and later spoke with the manager about this genuine display of empathy.
People like to touch or stroke others and inanimate objects. People receive solace from petting their dogs. Many retirement homes will have designated days in which pets are brought in, so the residents will receive the satisfaction of the sense of touching the pets. We all enjoy the gentle touch of a parent or loved one. The ultimate haptic touch of developing rapport is with the lips!