Why NOT Be High Touch?

I wait in a TSA line at LaGuardia Airport, inching my way toward the front, when I notice a man and a woman. They stand next to each other, laughing, bantering back and forth. The man takes the palm of his right hand, playfully places it on the woman’s forehead for a quick second.

Give me some of that energy, he says and withdraws the hand.

She laughs, he laughs. I surmise they’re co-workers on a business trip. Best friends, perhaps. Definitely not a romantic couple. The moment lasts mere seconds. I am touched (no pun intended) by the playfulness of the act, but I am stirred even more by the hidden message of the gesture: I value what’s in your brain. I am inspired by your thoughts. I love the energy you offer. I want some of it.

I think of Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup, talking about touchpoints. In the language of selling cycles, the word “touchpoint” is a cliché – it refers to all the moments of contact with the buyer.

Doug, much more meaningfully, refers to the impromptu chats he had as Campbell CEO while he roamed the hallways and engaged with folks. Doug mentions the many spur-of-the-moment thank you notes he wrote. He ends his talk by describing his experience of being in a near-fatal car accident, just a few years back. Doug wells up as he speaks of the hundreds of get-well notecards he received from Campbell employees all over the world, and how the words within the cards moved him.

Yes. Touchpoints.

Touch doesn’t “just happen.” Touch occurs because you and I embrace our instinct to connect. We choose to follow this instinct. We embody the desire to “touch.”

I really value my colleagues, you say. Show me. Touch.

I am a team-worker, you say. Show me. Touch.

I really love this company, you say. Show me. Touch.

Touch is not a private thought in our brain. It’s an experience we have with each other. It has nothing to do with being an introvert or extrovert. Extroversion can readily devolve into lots of high expression, no touch. High Touch is not about volumes of touchpoints. It’s about quality. It’s about the unexpected, unrequired, unscheduled connection. It’s about the purposeful touch. The playful touch. The heart touch.

Brian Edwards is a seasoned CEO who I admire. A high-touch guy. Brian likes to “touch base” once a day with each member of his Executive Team. Not to micro-manage. Not to have a “meeting.” Not to have a scheduled chat, not to get anything done. I just want to hear their voices, Brian says.

Heck yeah. Why not.

I do not propose you start running around, touching colleagues’ and strangers’ foreheads with your hand – though I like the literalness of the TSA-line-touch. But choose to have touch. Touch spontaneously. Touch sincerely. Whenever possible, be High Touch.

Your rewards, small and large, will be endless.