Why is Touchy-Feely a Four Letter Word?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Why is Touchy-Feely a Four Letter Word?

Ann Begler, an old gestalt buddy, wrote a compelling article: The Anti-Antogonist: Conflict and Resisting the Touchy-Feely

She wondered why people resist the touchy-feely. She writes, “So much of our work as conflict resolution professionals, consultants, mediators and coaches is centered on helping our clients to better understand their emotions, to better manage their emotions so they are able to choose actions rather than move habitually into a situation. A lot of our work revolves around supporting our clients to understand when and how they feel supported to be fully engaged with others and to have more awareness about the things that inhibit their engagement. The literature in our various fields is now replete with documentation about the importance of building emotional intelligence. Corporations are befuddled when they get survey material that reflects limited employee engagement, and they spend countless dollars pursuing ways to build human engagement, and more dollars on how to attract and retain talent.”

The article reminded me of a conversation I had with a couple of engineers. They knew my work on resistance, so they called to ask for advice on a planning meeting. They knew that there would be silent resistance and wanted to get that out in the open. I applauded their thinking. So I made a simple suggestion (a no brainer to my ears). I said how about presenting for 10 minutes and then stopping and asking people to talk with the person seated next to them about their reactions to the idea so far. Silence, and then they said, “Can’t do that, it’s way too touchy-feely.”

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