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The Art of Communication Through Touching… Haptic Communication

Another important piece of communication is haptic communication, or communicating via touch.  This is another powerful non-verbal communication style that is very important in humans (as well as animals).  Equally important is knowing the protocol of touch in various social, political, or professional settings.

Managers must know the rules of touching when communication with subordinates so as not to be misunderstood or misinterpreted.  While a “hand on the shoulder” for one person might appear supportive, some could interpret it as a sexual advance or sexual harassment.

Some common signs of communicative touching include:

  • Handshakes
  • Touching another’s shoulder
  • Holding hands
  • Touching another’s hand
  • Back slapping (predominantly a male gesture)
  • High fives

Touching is an effective and important form of non-vernal communication and if used correctly and appropriately, can become a Success Habit.   Exercise caution when touching subordinates, people of the opposite gender, someone from another country or culture, and strangers.   It is always a good idea to err on the side of caution when touching those who are not personal friends or family members

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Judy W Bell

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