So now that you know the basics of touch—and how vitally important it is—how exactly do you go about touching someone? If you are not accustomed to doing this it may feel quite awkward, or even like an outright violation of some unspoken rule, and that is going to come across in how you touch others. By following these simple guidelines, however, you can make your very first touch successful—and it’s all downhill from there!
The first principle is to keep your touch very light—do not rest any of your weight on the other person’s body! Increased pressure will feel uncomfortable, and furthermore it makes it harder for you to quickly withdraw your touch. The second principle is to keep your hand moving at first, do not keep your hand in one position until you have build a very high level of rapport. The first two principles work very well in tandem: if you keep your hand moving, you can never apply too much pressure. Something as simple as a tap on the shoulder can achieve both at once.
The third principle requires a little bit more intuition, which you will learn in time—don’t worry about this part until you have mastered the first two principles! That said, the third principle is to end the touch slightly before the other person has had enough. By stopping the contact a little bit early, you have much less risk of touching for too long or too hard and breaking rapport. Furthermore, you are also reminding them that touch actually feels really good, and they will be eager for and receptive to your next touch.
Note that you can gain some familiarity and comfort with touching by making it seem casual, or even incidental. When walking through a crowded place, it is acceptable to touch others on the upper back or shoulders to encourage them to move out of the way. This will give you some practice without needing to actively engage anyone. Ideally you should go find a friend and practice this together, to get a sense of what feels comfortable and what feels awkward, and to build your own comfort level with physical contact.