Here’s my current fascination: tracking examples of interactions—whether personal or business—that reflect the use of “Secure Attachment” skills in everyday life.

Recently I read an article on Chipotle, the fast-food restaurant chain, on how they have intentionally implemented some of what I would call “Secure Attachment” strategies into their basic business.

You have probably been there and noticed that they have a front person that greets you and also makes the custom-ordered tacos, burritos, and salads.

The psychologically savvy part? They always have a back-up person filling the food orders, so that the front person never has to break personal contact with the customer. It is a simple thing, but very effective.

In contrast, I was recently at a Chicago airport coffee shop with friends and colleagues from a conference we all attended. The woman who was taking our orders and ringing up the sale never even looked at us, demonstrating total disengagement. It felt robotic and alienating.

Another positive everyday example is the practice of simply shaking hands. On average you do this 15,000 times in a lifetime, and in that simple greeting you may be disclosing way more than you think.

In her fun book “Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Patti Woods states that based on recent research, when you make safe physical contact in a handshake your biochemistry is instantly communicated to your client, friend, or even a stranger.

On the other hand—pun intended!—if you are nervous, upset or stressed, your hands might be cold or sweaty. They might send a signal of fear or threat,
which may lead to the assumption that you should be considered dangerous. People don’t want to interact or do business with someone who is perceived as scary. Men in particular will likely avoid anyone with a wimpy handshake.

Palm-to-palm contact sends a strong signal saying, “I will be open to you” or “I will be honest and willing to disclose.” Sometimes women shake hands with arched palms to diminish intimacy, or they extend only their fingers. The reaction elicited in the other by that unconscious message is, “What is she holding back or hiding, or what is she afraid of?”  “Is she cold, or shy, or insecure?”

When you are well-regulated, your handshake sends a strong instant signal of safety that helps you interactively regulate the recipient. Such a simple gesture, yet with such tremendous effect!  Patti quotes research postulating that it would take three hours of empowering conversation to obtain the same result as a safe handshake.

So don’t dismiss as old-fashioned our cultural traditions of strengthening bonds. You may want to consider when a safe, confident handshake fits into your practice and your life. At the very least, notice how it feels when you greet a person with a handshake or some form of touch versus just a verbal greeting.

I am always on the lookout for everyday ways you and I can help folks amplify Secure Attachment in their lives. What’s your favorite way of establishing rapport non-verbally? Send any cool ideas you might have.








One Comment

  1. Elaine Dolan September 19, 2014 at 11:52 am

    How to appropriately be loving, or *liking*, or nurturing, or showing personal regard for people is a great purpose! How do you create rapport? How to pace pace pace before you lead? How do you clue into what always or almost always brings a positive response?: Authenticity…searching out the place where you correspond, on neutral ground…Saying what it is you like about someone…. Mirroring what they do that YOU like—for example, think *Imitation is the highest form of flattery*—but it’s the highest form of agreement, if it’s authentic. It’s exactly like mother-infant bonding. It’s not teachy or dictatorial, it’s curious and interested.

    Basic friendly acknowledgment (seeing beyond the surface) in greeting someone is a starting point for the Better Burrito.

    Most recently, I’m trying to list *terms of endearment*….how you address people you love or have personal regard for….Honey, sweetheart, son, you are the apple of my eye, you said it like it is, in some scenarios- Babe, you are right on!, But these simple forms of loving others are seemingly scarce. We must DARe to use them with appropriate boundaries….and take them in when they come back to us.

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