Touch – the overlooked sense but the powerful persuasion tool


You know, touch is incredibly important when establishing trust.  A woman is about four times more likely to touch another woman than a man is likely to touch a man.  Statistics on touch vary greatly country to country.

In their book ‘The Definitive Power Of Body Language’, Allan and Barbara Pease talk about the University of Minnesota’s phone booth test. Essentially, a coin is left in a phone booth for someone to find. When they leave the phone booth, they usually take the coin – hey, it’s lost anyway right?  Wrong.  Some bespectacled researcher jumps out, presumably dressed as a non-academic and noticeably missing the clipboard, and asks the person who’s just walked out whether they found a coin they left in there, as they need it to make another call.

Only 23% of people admitted to having found the coin.  However when the test was done again, and the researcher briefly touched the other person on or near the elbow and asked for the coin, 68% admitted to having it and gave it back.  It just goes to show you that touch is a powerful tool for creating a bond.  Be careful though.  The elbow is a good place to touch, as a soft contact here can’t be misconstrued as being something it’s not, and it’s important not to hold the touch for too long.  Try this next time you want to connect with someone.


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