When you negotiate, do you observe meanings conveyed through touching? I remember the words to a song from years ago that went, 'the touch of your hand makes me understand that I'm your woman and you're my man'. All of that was conveyed in just a touch.

A touch can convey many meanings during a negotiation. One thing it conveys is acceptance of the individual doing the touching, if the individual being touched does not withdraw. A touch can also send an unspoken word that says, 'I don't feel that close to you, or I don't accept the offer you're proposing'. In order to progress down the negotiation path to reaching your goals, it behooves you to decipher the correct meaning conveyed by the touch.

When you negotiate in different parts of the US and indeed around the world, touching someone during a negotiation can be perceived as being forward, out of place, and downright sexist. The time and placement of a touch, during the negotiation, can serve as a setup to enhancing the close of the negotiation. By that I mean, parties that touch one another and by being accepting of such, will tend to bond and start to view the negotiation from the same perspective.

A touch can also be used to create distance (i.e. I kept him at arm's length). It can send a non verbal signal that says, you're physically too close to me. You're invading my space. Back up, or I just might get my back up (i.e. the negotiation may not go as smoothly as you'd like).

When someone touches you during a negotiation, take note of where they touch you on your body. As an example, when you meet someone, they may shake your hand. At that point they're touching you on a part of your body that contains less mass. At that point they're influencing you, but not to the degree they would if they were hugging you. To the degree their handshake is hard, soft, or normal for you, the degree of influence they project is conveyed in that moment of exchange. At that point, they're giving insight into their makeup, demeanor, and character.

People can be influenced more by being touched in larger areas of mass on their bodies. If you touch someone on the upper part of their arm, there's less meaning and control than if you touch them on their shoulder. A word of caution - Men should always be very careful where and how they touch a woman when negotiating.

When you negotiate take note of where someone touches you, how long they touch you and how you feel as the result of their touch. As you become more astute at negotiating, you'll also become aware of the subliminal effect someone has on you when they touch you.

We all have a need to belong and one way that feeling of belonging is conveyed is through touching. Once you master the art of touching during negotiations, you will have added another dimension to your arsenal of negotiation tools and you will have enhanced more favorable negotiation outcomes ... and everything will be right with the world.

The negotiation lessons are ...

  • Make an effort to understand hidden meanings implied in touching during negotiations. By doing so, you'll receive additional insight into the mind of those with whom you're negotiating.
  • When negotiating realize touching can be invaluable, but understand not everyone wants to be touched. In the latter situation, touching someone can lead to a losing proposition.
  • For practice over the next few days, observe people in different environments as they're being touched by someone else. Take note of the response of the person being touched. If it's someone in your personal sphere of influence, ask them how they felt as the result of being touched. Use this exercise as a way to increase your knowledge about the benefits of touching.

Greg Williams - The Master Negotiator



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