The skin is the largest organ in the body but we often take for granted how we communicate nonverbally through our body language but also through how we physically touch other people.
One of the ways you can comfort a person is through a gentle squeeze of the hand or a hug. Touching a person who can’t stop talking not only stops them from talking incessantly but makes them realise that you want to understand them better. For grieving or scared individuals, holding their hand or enveloping them in a firm hug, is a great comfort to them. It also assures them that someone is around to help them cope with the situation.
How about around colleagues or strangers? According to studies, the safest approach to touching someone you don’t really know or aren’t close with personally is to touch them briefly, keeping your touch around the back from the shoulder, arm and/or hand.
This would signify to them, in a friendly manner, that you want their attention. Then whey they respond to your touch, you can go ahead and tell them the reason for getting their attention. Of course, this is only for situations when getting their attention in other ways is not possible, like for emergencies or when there is no time to communicate in other ways.
We must also keep in mind that some person’s don’t like being touched in certain places or certain ways. For example, there are people who may be ticklish at the back of the arm so they dislike being touched there. Other people don’t like being hugged. Try to touch someone where they can see where you are going to touch so they can warn you or move away from you if they don’t want to be touched. At least you are still able to get their attention.
In situations where you want to touch someone, like a mole on their face or arm for example, be sure to get their consent first so you don’t get reprimanded or embarrassed when they reprimand you or swat your hand away.
There are many other ways you can touch someone to give comfort or to communicate support. Through a firm, energetic handshake, a squeeze of the hand or arm, a pat on the back, or a brief shoulder massage.
Pay attention to how you communicate with others nonverbally too, so you can learn if you are conveying the right message to them through your touch.