I never knew it was so complicated. There’s so much technique involved. Timing, position, on the top or on the bottom, how long you last…and it’s origins reach back to Ancient Greece. Even Hercules did it! It shows no hidden intentions and still today, it is a great basis on which to start a new relationship…..

 

“The handshake is one of the highest forms of symbolic currency with the power to unite, divide, seal deals, and broker peace. It is a simple gesture that can be more informative to people than a whole host of grand speeches. And they dig into our cultural consciousness, staying glued in our memory even if the peace or reconciliation they were supposed to bring about never materializes, say analysts.”

Some of you may feel like reaching for the hand sanitizer as you read this but for those who like to ‘live on the edge’- keep reading..

When I was studying to become a personal trainer, I was taught to offer a handshake when meeting a client for the first time. It was a new behaviour for me.

As a radiographer, I didn’t exactly shake every patient’s hand. This may have ended in less than preferred pathological outcomes! I spent more time reaching for the bin when a soggy tissue was handed to me….

So now, having overcome the ‘reaching for the bin’ handshake, I investigated a little more on this all important gesture and I’m trying to teach my son to start the habit.

If we label one’s character  with a simple handshake, we can range from ‘the superior’, ‘the lesser’, ‘the finger crusher’, ‘the twister’ or ‘the dead fish’.

If we look at technique, we may use a ‘hand hug’, a ‘dominator’, a ‘cold and clammy’ or a ‘queens fingertips’ action…

I think I’m somewhere in between a ‘superior’ and a ‘lesser’ . I’d like to think I’m better than a ‘dead fish’ and not so stuck up as a ‘queens fingertips’ ….

But let’s push aside the scrutiny and judgement associated with technique and body language of a handshake.

Let’s talk about what it can mean in day to day life. What do I want it to represent when I’m trying to encourage my son to do it?

A handshake to me represents friendship. It shows people that you are there- in the moment. You are willing to listen, share, teach and converse.

A handshake is an introduction. An introduction to who you are and what you can provide to that person’s life.

It may be an introduction to a great day. I’ve promised my son a chocolate(said no PT ever…) if he walks into his classroom, shakes his teacher’s hand, looks him in the eye and says ‘good morning’ all at the same time….If you knew Benji, you’d understand what a big ask this is and why bribery is involved.

Apart from the cuteness factor, I think it shows respect and a willingness to learn to his teacher. It sets the day up for great things.

I think we’ve moved past the era where women didn’t shake hands but just said ‘hello’ demurely. If someone offers to shake my hand I appreciate it. I appreciate their attention and the fact that they aren’t after a Facebook photo first. They want to meet me.

While presidents may use a handshake as symbolic coinage, I use it as a simple gesture of friendship– either new or old. Although history shows that I’ll progress to a kiss on the cheek for my old friends. Perhaps even both cheeks if I’ve got a few champagnes under my belt…same meaning though.

When I shake your hand I am truly interested in you. I am open to knowing who you are. I am trustworthy, prepared and willing to get to know you. We are on an even keel and we respect each other. My handshake is genuine and I am right there with you.

So, whether you’re a wet fish or a dominator, I wish you well. I shake you’re hand and hope your day is great.

I hope my son earns his chocolate and that his teacher gets the respect he deserves……

E

Whether you’re allegedly nervous (the wet fish) or overly assertive (the dominator), let me know your thoughts…in the comments below. Thanks for reading…