Why It’s Good to be Touchy

touch blog picA yoga teacher friend shared with me that at one studio where she works, teachers are encouraged to offer gentle hands-on assistance to every student, which isn’t unusual. However, most of us don’t work in environments where touch is appropriate, and I’m certainly not encouraging you to do anything that would land you in the HR department. But the reasoning behind the studio policy was interesting to me: Feedback indicated that this assistance was the only time in the day when some people were touched, and if others received hands-on help and they didn’t, they felt slighted. Furthermore, my friend told me that at the end of a class, she always goes around and gives a gentle shoulder massage to each person. But in order to respect boundaries, she first announces her intention to offer the brief massage, then adds, “If you’d rather I pass you by, that’s totally fine. Simply place a hand on your belly so I know.” In seven years, she can count on three fingers the number of people who’ve opted out.

It seems many of us are starved for true, physical connection. But we hold back for a host of reasons, not the least of which is we don’t want to come off as one of those touchy-feely creeps we’ve all encountered.  So we avoid all touching, just to be safe. Some people even act as if a handshake is taboo, offering a slack hand and cursory wrist waggle, which is unimpressive, especially in a business setting.

If you were not raised in a demonstrative family, it can be tough to break out of that mold. Consider, though, that science has proven the myriad health benefits of touch, including lowered blood pressure and increased immunity. Neurologists have found that it doesn’t matter if you’re the toucher or touchee – connecting more with others on even the smallest physical level creates positive feelings.

Sure, it can feel awkward at first to touch others if you’re not used to it. So start with your loved ones. Be present when you hug each other and hold on a little longer. Then branch out to friends – maybe offer a reassuring shoulder squeeze or pat on the back. Some of this obviously gets tricky when we’re dealing with the opposite sex, but I think it’s clear that I’m not advocating anything shady, like squeezing someone’s thigh or patting their rear — unless you play professional sports. Then, apparently, slapping a teammate’s behind is encouraged. In fact, scientific evidence has shown that athletes who give each other high-fives or an encouraging pat during games do better as a team than the ones who don’t physically interact — just one more piece of evidence that physical contact can have positive benefits. So reach out and touch someone!


Step into the Truth Booth, improve your life, and laugh along the way with funny motivational speaker Colette Carlson. How did she go from emotional coward and the Pizza Delivery’s favorite customer to #1 sales producer for sales legend Tom Hopkins and Brian Tracy, featured in Success Magazine, a 50 lb. weight loss, and inspiring audiences at Microsoft, Accenture, Pepsi, Boeing, and organizations worldwide? Visit her at http://www.ColetteCarlson.com or call 760-230-1212.

Colette founded Speak Your Truth, Inc. to share her success systems and inspire others to Think It! Speak It! Live It! Her tools and takeaways create authentic, long-lasting change in every aspect of your life. With a MA in human behavior, a successful business and 2 teenage daughters, Colette provides a unique combination of education, research, real-life experience, and heartfelt humor to motivate you with her high content programs. Improve your Communication Skills, Work-Life Balance, Sales, Leadership, Assertiveness, Negotiation…all wrapped in the genuine power of Speaking Your Truth.

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  1. Yes yes yes Colette!!! I come from a long line of Italian touchy-feely-yelly-screamy people, so for me, hugging, kissing, and back-slapping is second nature. AND – just as you said, I have to be very mindful that that may not be the case for others. But I really appreciate how you offer a way to "ease" into that behavior if it's not comfortable for you or not what you are used to.  Good stuff!

  2. I used to have this phobia about being hugged. Hated the contact and would go out of my way to avoid the contact. I wasn't used to being hugged and didn't know how to react to it. And then I became friends with hungers, like you Colette, who taught me how to hug and mean it. Now I hug everybody. I do believe we are born with a need to connect with others…that we were created for relationship to other humans. So the desire to be touched makes all the sense in the world to me. And sometimes we huggers need to be respectful of those who have touching boundaries and fear of that intimacy. And then hug them anyway.  Thanks Colette for reminding me why I love you so much.

  3. Name of yoga studio please!  You bring up such an important topic, Colette.  One that has me looking deeply into my interaction with touch.  I need to do it more and I need to recieve it more.  Group hug?

  4. I cannot wait to get my hands on all of you in a few weeks!   Oh wait… that totally came out wrong…   Thank you Colette for bringing this important physical vitamin to light.  I am a toucher, a hugger, and a shoulder shover… Oh, that last one is a great way to interact with someone who is obviously not used to touching.  You place your hand on the front of their shoulder and give it a slight gentle push, while you say something like "you rock!" or "look at you go!".  I have seen involuntary smiles appear on faces of those who may have withered and died if I had gone in for a hug.   I would LOVE to belong to your yoga studio!   ((hug))

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