To Touch Or Not To Touch

What do we communicate through touch?

Haptics is the study of contact cues. How frequently we touch, the intensity of the touch, the type of touch and who we touch, sends a distinct message.
With communication being 93% non-verbal, touching can speak volumes in the way we present ourselves.

In business presentations, the first haptic message is the handshake. Is the handshake a tight grip or a weak contact? Do you shake quickly and withdraw, is it a full handshake, or do you hold on longer than you should? The first example communicates nervousness or resistance, the second example is appropriate, the third example may be construed as sexual. If you grip and turn the hand over, you're trying to show dominance.

Where you touch is important. The safe zone is from the hand to the elbow.
A pat on the back between co-workers shows friendliness. A pat on the head is condescending.

How often you touch can reveal the nature of the relationship. Frequent touching indicates intimacy. It could also reveal aggression if it's finger poking or pushing.

Who you touch can signal hierarchy. The CEO might put a hand on a subordinate's shoulder but the subordinate would not touch the CEO.

People who are "touchy feely" may be perceived as warm and approachable or they may be seen as intrusive if the recipient is a person who doesn't like to be touched.

Realize that touching is communication. And like all presentations the type and frequency of your touch depends on your audience.