In the Buddhist teaching, Upajjhatthana Sutta, there are five remembrances for contemplation. The one I…
Yesterday, I asked that you observe your behaviors and thoughts around touch.
Today, I want you to shake things up a bit. So this is where we talk about consent and how it isn’t personal. What I mean is, we should ask others if we can touch them and not take it personally if they say no.
For example, reach out to shake a hand while saying good morning. Handshaking is pretty mainstream but some people hate them so you might even say, “Hey, this crazy voice coach I read is encouraging us to touch more, can I shake your hand?” Or offer up a high five. For some people, it may seem odd but rarely is it considered off-putting.
You may encounter a situation where a pat on the shoulder or even a hug seems appropriate. Even if you know the person well, consent can be a variable state. Someone you have hugged before might really not want one now, but might be fine with it tomorrow. So, just ask. “Is it okay if I pat your shoulder?” or “Is it okay if I hug you?” And wait for the answer. For their own reasons people may say no, and it isn’t about you at all. Just know that the offer of contact when not forced upon someone gives them much of the support you were trying to give.
Here is a very important detail: Making contact with another human is a way to see their humanity. It is not, an excuse to try to create a deeper relationship or influence that person.
Changing our relationship to touch and relearning acceptable touch in public spheres is tricky. Still, the effect of subverbal human contact on verbal communication is so positive that we must try.
Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.