Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Proper Handshake Lesson

Why oh why does anyone over the age of five still need to be told how to shake a hand? In our house, the proper handshake lesson comes before the one about sneezing into your arm to avoid spreading germs. Although sneezing that way can make for a messy sleeve, it then becomes more of an issue than a few germs on your hand. Anyway, back to the handshake issue. How hard is it to get this right? Extend your hand, firmly grasp the hand extended to you, pause for a moment, pump, throw in a smile and some eye contact and the deal is done.

So what is it that continues to elude otherwise average people from presenting a less than average greeting. I have it boiled down to three things. First and most debilitating is a lack of confidence, second you just don’t care, and third you are already on your way to somewhere else (literally or metaphorically) before hand-to-hand contact is made. Lest you or someone you know falls into one of these three categories, look for any of these signs and try to pull yourself or them out of a bad habit. You might as well get something from your handshake. Why take on all those germs for nothing? Save those for sneezing into your sleeve.

  • Standing too far away. If you are a little off balance or feeling a stretch in your right glut, then move in a little. I am not suggesting you trade Tic Tacs – just get inside the bubble. If your arm is fully or even mostly extended, you are too far away. You might as well wave.

  • Physically moving away while still grasping hands. Come on, you know you have had this happen to you. Or have you been the one? Usually the head goes first, then the body attached to the arm, which is attached to the hand follows. No matter how it happens the person on the receiving end is left feeling unimportant and even insulted as in ‘why bother’.

  • Eye contact so fleeting that it might just be a twitch. If you are a sixteen-year-old boy, this might be understood. But not before or after that age.

  • The wimpy boy, girl, man or woman. There is nothing left to be said on this subject. Just do it.

  • The vice grip. See lesson above.

Now back to my original observation that bad handshakes are still all over the place. Do yourself a favor. Get up from your computer right now. Go shake someone’s hand and ask them to rate you on a 1–5, with 5 being the best. Then walk around and tell other people you are rating them on the same 1–5 scale. Let’s start a movement to fix the handshakes of the world. Okay, so not the world but maybe just your block.

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