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