A couple of weeks ago I was asked to help pick up my grandson Joe at daycare. I am always happy to help out when I can, so I said yes. On the way out of day care, we had to cross a relatively empty parking lot to get to my car. Even though there were no moving cars around, I made sure Joe held my hand from the building to the car. He is at that height where he is tall enough to see, but short enough that he is hard to be seen and I did not want to be the one who started a bad habit of running to a car unattended.
After I dropped off Joe at his house I got to thinking about holding hands and the different ways they happen throughout our lives. Holding hands with a girl as a teenager was nerve wracking for me. That first touch when another person agrees to have their hand held in yours is a big deal. Even now I enjoy holding hands with my wife, sometimes just to let her know I am thinking about her.
I wanted to know more about the science of holding hands so I did a Google search. A 2017 article by Sarah Wolstoncroft in Entity magazine informed me that “holding hands not only decreases the stress hormone, cortisol, it also increases the love hormone, oxytocin. Holding hands decreases cortisol by making the other person feel content and connected. It sends signals to the person’s brain that there is less danger in a perceived threat. This is especially true when you are holding the hand of a loved one or romantic partner. When cortisol levels are high, the skin is more sensitive. And because the hands and fingers contain the most nerve endings in the body, holding hands can really help make you feel more at ease.
Holding hands increases oxytocin. This is the hormone responsible for producing empathic responses and prompting better communication. That’s why it’s deemed the “love hormone.” Holding hands not only develops a bond between romantic partners, it also helps them feel more confident, loved and happier. And the best part of all? Holding hands is also literally good for your heart. Oxytocin reduces blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease.”
So on several levels holding hands makes sense. As small business owners and managers, figuratively holding the hands of our clients as we help guide them to the most profitable way to use our product or service is useful. Do we want our customers to have an increase in their oxytocin levels when they think about us? Yes, but on a professional level. We want them to love our product or service and become loyal to our business. Loyal enough to tell others how great we are.
I know how I feel if I am working on something that I know where I know just a little bit about how it works. Having and expert guide me through the best way to use it makes me feel better and safer. I often shop at places where I get great advice, hand holding if you will. They understand that the key is to know when to hold tight and when to loosen our grip, so we can learn to succeed on our own.
I will continue to hold hands with Joe and my other grandkids when we are in a potentially dangerous or crowded situation. Not only do I want them to feel the security of holding my hand, but the oxytocin and love that comes along with it.