• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

The secret language of high-fives

Get PDF file

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

There are many ways to cheer your teammates’ triumphs and prod them to pick up their game when they’re down. What’s important is showing that you care and you’re rowing along with everyone in pursuit of shared success.

For professional basketball players, the speed and intensity of the game prevents them from giving each other long pep talks. They may not even have time to compliment a teammate for hustling down the court and making a nice shot.

Researchers have found that NBA players convey support for each other with high-fives to fist bumps. To celebrate a particularly good play, they might rap their teammate on the side of the head with a fist.

On average, each of these touches between teammates lasts just two seconds. But they exert a lasting impact.

The more a team’s players touch one another in a supportive manner during the first few months of the season, the better the team’s results as the season wraps up. The researchers concluded that athletes who touched each other in an encouraging manner helped elevate the team’s collective performance over time.

The lesson for leaders is to bring teams together by expressing heartfelt approval for admirable effort or small successes. Signal your pride in teammates’ devotion to excellence, even if it’s just a quick pat on the back.

— Adapted from The Power Paradox, Dacher Keltner, Penguin Press.

Leave a Comment