What Is Tactile Communication? (The non-verbal primer)

We communicate a great deal through our physical contact, or lack of it, with others

Tactile communication refers to what we communicate through the sense of touch — through touching, or not touching each other in various ways. Touch may be the most primal or basic form of communication, since it’s the way things are communicated to infants, way before infants have learned anything about other modes of communication.

Tactile messages tend to convey aspects of emotional and attitudinal states. Touch can convey anger, love, warmth, coldness, hostility, etc. The absence of touch also can communicate.

While tactile communication is basic to human beings, that doesn’t mean that culture and context don’t enter into the equation of meaning. While we all respond to touch regardless of culture, HOW we react to a touch will vary depending on culture, life experience, and so on, making it more difficult to interpret tactile communication than one would think. Again, there’s no universal meanings.

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