Nonverbal communication: Physical Touch
Nonverbal communication: Physical Touch

Nonverbal communication: Physical Touch

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  • Pages: 3 (1112 words)
  • Published: November 9, 2021
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According to Chapman & White (2012), appropriate physical touches are a fundamental aspect of human behavior. Physical touch can be a firm handshake or a high five congratulating a person for a job well done, a simple pat on the back, putting hands on one’s shoulder, or a hug, all of which are acceptable expressions of appreciation. Physical touch is a normal part of life, though there are people who are at ease with it and still others who gets nervous or irritated when physically touched. In most cases, unless one is intimate with the person being touched, physical touch may imply violations of someone’s personal boundaries. According to Leathers & Eaves (2015), disregarding the body territories, which are delineated by personal markers, risks one being perceived as inept and insensitive, and may end up having a disruptive impact on personal communication. With this knowledge, I set out to find out how people will react towards me if I became too touchy or if I avoided touching them at all. From my experience, I found out that acceptable touch can be a source of strong emotional reaction depending on the level of association you have with the person, emotions that can either be positive or negative depending on the situation at hand.

From what I know of myself, I am a warm person who interacts with people very well. Irrespective of this, I am reserved when we come to touching people every now and then apart from yo

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ung kids from close family members. Occasionally, when having fun with friends, there is the usual shoulder patting and slight thumps. Whereas in most cases I do this subconsciously, this time I did it consciously with a sole aim of finding out how the people I touch responded. To get the best response, I choose not to let them know that I was studying their reaction towards me.

The first person to touch was a close friend of mine who we often hang out together. This time, we were sited on a public bench having a private talk. This meant that we had to be close to each other. Unlike other times, this time round I chose to place my hand on his shoulder repeatedly. At the first time, he looked at me straight in the eyes with surprise and a sole intention of reading me. Though this happened in a flash second, his communication changed to more serious and kept looking at me from time to time. The second time that I placed my hand on his shoulder, the next thing he said was “there is nothing to worry about. Take it easy”. The conversation changed and at a point in time, he asked me whether everything was ok. Initially, by my touch, I meant to draw his attention and lay more emphasis on what I was saying, but with his responses, since I am not used to do as such, he reacted as if I was very worried to a point of requiring an assurance.
The next person I happened to touch happened by accident. As I was walking around, a piece of

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paper from a book that I was carrying fell without my knowledge. A guy who was behind me took the paper and handed it to me. I was very happy and I proceeded to pat him on the side of his upper arm (the usual fast three soft taps accompanied by a thank you). This elicited a smile on his face, and he said, “it’s ok. No worries”. Immediately, he felt free to initiate a talk with me, which I willingly gave in. All this I ascribed to the touch that made him realize that he could comfortably walk and talk with me.

Perhaps the most interesting findings I got was from my girlfriend. The fact that we comfortably interact at both personal and intimate space made her one of my target in finding out how people react to physical touches. Usually, when walking around, we hold hands, or at times, I get my hand across her waist. When in the room, we sit closely together, and when sited in the opposite direction, I always find a reason to toy with her fingers. This time round, we went to the cafeteria and as usual, we sat in the opposite direction. Though I kept my usual composure and style of talking, I completely avoided touching her. When she touched, I intentionally refused to return the gesture. It did not take long before she remarked, “What’s up? Cheer up!” This was said irrespective of the fact that we were cracking jokes while reminiscing on how our days were. Later on in the room, I equally abstained from touching her. She sat next to me, but I laid my hands on the couch. It did not take much time before she brought up the issue of the cafeteria. Her question was, “what was that at the cafeteria?” “Are you ok?” “Seems like yo’ troubled or yo’ stressed up. Anything that I should know?” I could not help myself other than laugh aloud while at the same time telling her that I was studying how people react to physical touches. After letting her know, that was when we discussed about how she felt at the cafeteria, and what she was thinking prior to asking me these questions. My abstaining from touching her meant to her that either I was preoccupied with something else in my mind, or I was mad about her out of something. I therefore noted that touching her always assured her that everything was ok, between us and with myself.

From this experience, I realized that nonverbal communication invokes strong feelings and emotions that are hard to initiate through verbal communications. At some point in time, I related this with the saying “action speaks louder than words”. The few times that I tested how people reacts to physical touch, the reaction that I received was strong and spoke in volumes more than words could say. A reflex response loudly gave out what the person being touched felt or how he or she understood the touch. An absence of physical touch to people that you are used to is most likely to raise multiple

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