Reach Out photo from ShutterstockPhysical touch is a communication tool few people take advantage of. It can help you bond and connect with people, not just communicate by dispensing data. Yes, you can touch strangers as well as colleagues at a business 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 and touch the person you’re talking to on the arm or shoulder. Maintain physical contact for a split second as you speak directly to the person.
  • Place your hand and remove it in an equally purposeful and definite manner on the acceptable part of the body: shoulder, elbow, forearm, hand. Nothing below the waist.
  • Relax, smile, and look as if you expect the other person to accept the touch in the manner you gave it: supportive, encouraging, caring, and respectful.
  • Do not use touch with any intimate overtones.
  • Be sensitive to the person’s reactions. Ask about the exchange if you sense discomfort and remedy it immediately.
  • Always put yourself in the other persons’ shoes and consider how you’d appreciate it done to you, and then do it that way.
  • Above all, be consistent. Use touch with men and women, young and old, the likeable and the not-so-likeable. You cannot just do it with the ones you know and like, that’s what gets you in trouble.

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

If you refrain from reaching out and touching someone (appropriately) you’ll lose a valuable opportunity to connect and bond. Yes, I know it “touchy” and corporate policies instruct not to do it. Fact is the most powerful leaders do it, they just do it well. And that’s what I want you to do: Do it well so as to me memorable, genuine, trusted, and liked.