The personal touch goes a long way in business.
Like experiments? Try this the next time you go out. Keep an eye on the waitresses and see who they touch, where they touch and when they touch. Understanding the power of touch, both inside and outside the office, can make a significant difference to your career. If you get it right! And you’d be forgiven for thinking that the leggy blondes, (or tall handsome waiters) would get the bigger tips. Doesn’t work like that. Here’s why.
Why Middle Age Waitresses Get Bigger Tips
The researchers wanted to examine the impact touching had in office and social environments. They looked at:
- When – at the start, middle or end of the meal.
- Where – for example, on the arm, shoulder, head or hands.
- How – did they use their hands or ‘buffers’ such as pens to make contact?
- Who – did they touch the male, female or children first?
- Which touch had the most impact?
Here’s what happened. The waitresses that got the biggest tips did the following.
- Who – they touched the highest status female first (i.e. at a mixed table) and rarely the male (i.e. it could be seen as flirting). In non-mixed tables, the rarely touched the male diners.
The interpretation is that the female (woman as decision-maker) would decide at the end of the meal how much of a tip to leave. If the waitress had been flirting, forget it. If the waitress recognized her status (i.e. as decision-maker), she would be rewarded.
- When – the most successful (i.e. experienced) waitresses touched the head female when guiding her to her table.
- Where – most touches were to the relatively neutral shoulder area.
- How – touches were very light. No pressure was applied.
What can we learn from this? We need to be careful when touching others in a work environment. Even reading the phrase ‘touching others in a work environment’ makes me feel… a bit creepy.
But look at the most successful manager in your department. How do they touch co-workers?
- Handshakes. Note how they give handshakes. Is it firm?
- Elbows. Do they simultaneously grip the other person’s elbow to ‘lock’ them in?
- Shoulder. Or do they hold them by the shoulder. ‘We’re in this together’
- Pat on the back. This sounds like a cliché but watch carefully. Most ‘people person’ managers offer many little pats on the back over the course of the weeks.
The Right Way To Give A Pat On The Back
- Moderate to Firm
- Quick applied with a
- Warm Smile and then
- Walk away from the person
The Wrong Way To Give A Pat On The Back
Don’t get creepy by:
- Hanging around
- Planting yourself on his/her desk. This can be very intimidating.
- Winking (don’t go there!) it sends out mixed message and means different things in different cultures.
Is It Ok To Touch People In The Office?
I used to work in Spain and the Latins were an affectionate bunch. So were the Italians. Even the men kiss. It’s the norm. But in Ireland, UK, and the US it never happens.
In China, the junior staff call me ‘uncle’. When they shake hands, it can be very gentle (which I used to interpret as weak or fishy). This is the ‘norm’ for them. They don’t want to challenge you with a strong handshake.
How about you?
What have you noticed about the power of touch? What’s the one thing people shouldn’t do? And what’s the one thing that really makes a difference?