Studies show that touching between men, especially in the workplace, is usually related to power plays and social jostling. An employer will place his hand on the shoulder or back of an employee to reaffirm his status while offering encouragement. Such displays are inappropriate in reverse and wouldn’t usually be tolerated. If touching is well received though, it indicates that strong rapport is being built between the ranks and a promotion might be forthcoming. Men can use touch, as a means to raise their status by initiating it against men of slightly higher status than them. If done tactfully, it can create a leveling effect and force them to reevaluate the rank they have attributed to you. If touching is done incorrectly, it will catch high status individuals off guard producing a negative effect that can be difficult or impossible to correct. Men, overall, rate touching less positively as a rule when compared to women, so touching initiated against men should be sparse.
Touching between men and women often outlines sexual interest and when women touch each other, it is often done out of friendship or to extend sympathy or formulate bonds. Family members also use touching such as hugs and kisses to display affection. Touching comforts are different from person to person and also of different cultures. The kiss hello for example is commonplace in Switzerland, Southern Europe, Latin America and the Mediterranean. It is uncommon in North America, Asia and some of Northern and Western Europe. Localized kiss hellos happens in Miami and Quebec for example and even in regional neighbourhoods such as with Italian or Hispanics. As far as hand holding goes, it is commonplace in the Middle East to symbolize friendship and respect when done between adult men. Even President George Bush was spotted holding Saudi’s crown Prince Abdullah’s hand which scored points with the locals, but became water cooler material for people in the U.S.