Reach Out and Touch!

hands ready to shake

In my training and coaching, I talk a lot about nonverbal communication: body language, gestures, facial expressions and vocal tone. However, there is one we tend to overlook—physical contact.

In a New York Times article by Benedict Carey, the author notes that researchers have discovered “momentary touches…—whether an exuberant high five, a warm hand on the shoulder, or a creepy touch to the arm— can communicate an even wider range of emotion than gestures or expressions, and sometimes do so more quickly and accurately than words.”

Interesting, huh? The fact is that 40% of the population is most comfortable using a kinesthetic learning channel; which means they communicate more effectively through touch as opposed to sight or sound. Touch, the article explains, is the first language we learn. No wonder it holds so much sway! Messages communicated through touch can immediately affect the way people think and act.

“Students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not. A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched.”

The Definitive Book of Body Language also notes that just brushing someone’s hand can create rapport and increase positive feelings and a light tap on the elbow has been found to increase a person’s chances of getting what they want by 3 fold.

Of course, in the age of sexual harassment suits, no one’s suggesting you go around caressing and embracing everyone you meet or work with. However, think about adding a light tap on the elbow, a brush on the hand, or a light pat on the back to your communication. It can make a real difference in the way people perceive you, relate to you, and respond to your requests.

Want to improve your body language? Contact me for a coaching session!

7 Ways to Stand Out from the Crowd


What can you do to make sure you’re winning people over in the new year? It can take only 2 seconds to make a first impression. And almost 90% of that impression is made through your nonverbal communication. But did you know that it can take up to 12 visits to undo a negative first impression! Here are 7 tips to make yours a good one.

  1. Start before you open the door – Many of us walk into a room planning to scope out the situation. By then it’s usually too late. Visualize yourself as a shining star before you even leave your house. Our impression is formed on the inside as well as the outside.
  2. Adjust your focus – Focus on how you are going to engage, communicate with, or inspire the people in the room. Do NOT focus on what they are going to think about you! Set the intention of finding people you can help instead of looking for people who can help you.
  3. Be curious! It will make a difference!  At a recent networking event, I was approached by a woman. I was curious about her embossed name tag and commented on it. She launched into an explanation about the tag. She told me some recent accomplishments and promoted something else she was doing. But she walked away without ASKING ME ONE QUESTION! Don’t be that woman!
  4. Dress your strengths – What’s the one quality about you that you just love? Make one style choice that reflects that quality. At a women’s networking group in New York City only 4 women out of 30 wearing color. Instead of dressing for success all the time, dress to Express.
  5. Become a flasher – an EYEBROW flasher. By simply raising your eyebrows quickly upon entering a room, you signal that you are a friendly, positive person who is also excited and exciting.
  6. Stand in your power – Posture speaks volumes. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, a slight bend to your knees, and your weight slightly forward. That gives you a solid base and pitches your body slightly towards the person you’re addressing. Try to keep your torso fully visible. Folding your arms communicates insecurity. Comfortably displaying your torso shows your confident and trustworthy.
  7. Channel your inner Barry White – The voice is the second most important part of an effective first impression. Speak from the diaphragm and lower your pitch, that goes for men and women. Lower pitches automatically sound more authoritative and confident. Avoid up-speaking – making everything sound like a question – and avoid speaking too softly or losing energy at the end of your sentences.

Click to learn more about the Chemistry of Communication!