The generic name for Velcro is "hook-and-loop fastener," a term that I find useful when thinking about John Gottman's concept of "the bid," which is what he calls "the fundamental unit of emotional communication." As Gottman writes in The Relationship Cure:
A bid can be a question, a gesture, a look, a touch--any single expression that says, "I want to feel connected to you." A response to a bid is just that--a positive or negative answer to somebody's request for emotional connection.
My work as a coach--and particularly my work with groups, like my new T-group at Stanford that I just joined today--makes it eminently clear that we seek to connect with other people in all the ways that Gottman describes and countless others. I've come to see all interpersonal behavior, including my own, as a series of more or less effective bids, because no matter what other goals we have in a given interaction, at some level we're simply looking to connect with the other person and to have that feeling reciprocated.
Some of us connect readily with others, and some of us are easy to connect to. The former put out highly effective bids--if they were velcro, they'd have plenty of hooks--while the latter respond effectively to bids--if they were velcro, they'd have endless loops.
As silly as it sounds, I find the idea of "human velcro" a useful metaphor because it makes me stop and ask: What hooks am I putting out there? How effectively am I bidding to connect with this particular person? Just as important, what loops am I putting out there? How effectively am I perceiving and responding to their bids?
(If you'd like to explore Gottman's work on this concept further, his Bid for Connection quiz is a thought-provoking place to start.)