Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Handshake

MSN had an article on handshaking today, or maybe that was yesterday. It intrigued me, not the handshake part really, but that it mentioned that when John F. Kennedy was running for President, he commissioned a study to find the most effective handshake, resulting in the double handshake he used from then on. I guess it may have helped get him elected. I dunno. The whole idea of all the strange things that are studied got me interested, but all for naught, I tried to google other pre-presidential election studies, but maybe I didn't use the right words. Maybe I shouldn't have used the words "stupid studies done by U.S. presidents."

But it did get me to thinking more about the art of shaking hands. I can't remember when I first learned there was a special way we were to do it, probably in a highschool communication class. I do remember having to practice. I was a very shy young girl, and it seemed so difficult to "have" to shake hands with my fellow class mates. Trying to grab their hand in the correct way, and make eye contact, and then not having my arm shook out of the socket. Being shy, the eye contact was the hardest part for me, sometimes it still is.

Then as I entered the world of grownups, the handshake became so important, it seemed like a measure of adulthood somehow, I can remember it suddenly seemed like no matter what I did, where I went, I was constantly having to shake hands with someone, so eventually it became easy, just something I automatically did, stick out my hand....about 10 years ago though, I noticed that many women seemed uncomfortable at first, and I realized that the handshake for women used to be pretty much regulated to the business world. So it had its own awkward moments, there I would stand, with my hand sticking out and the other woman would be looking at it for a heartbeat or two before reciprocating.

Which of course even back then got me to wondering....was there a special way women were supposed to shake hands as opposed to men? Was there handshake etiquette?

Yep, there is handshake etiquette, but most people don't know it.....just like most people don't know that your nametag is supposed to be worn on the right side...why?.....so that when you are shaking hands with someone they can quickly glance up your right arm and read your name...

In the MSN article, there was a wee bit on handshake etiquette, including the silly thing that the person with the most power is supposed to offer their hand first? Wtf? If I waited around for that, there are times when we would be standing there awkwardly for way too long, instead of just getting things moving......I wonder, if I start it, does that give the impression that I have the power? Cool! Could that hurt someone in a meeting though, if they offer to shake first?

What I don't like about handshakes though isn't who initiates them, but how it is done.

I can remember meeting a gentleman ( use that term rather loosely) at a rotary club meeting, he gripped my hand so tightly that the stone setting in my ring cut my fingers.... I bled! Ouch!

Or I have had my hand more caressed than shaken, the comfort level on that one was a tad bit weird.

Then there was the new intern recently who gave me his hand, and it felt like I was holding a wet noodle. I wanted to stop the entire process, and teach him how to shake hands.

I look at it this way, a handshake is a greeting custom, they shouldn't be memorable, they should just be a part of the ritual of meeting and greeting. If the handshake is memorable, then there is something wrong with it.

I have so many meetings tomorrow, I wonder, will this post be on my mind, will I be evaluating handshakes? Probably, because I remember after I found out about the proper placement of a nametag, I would check to see who had theirs on correctly, which if you will notice....is very few people.

1 comment:

Phil said...

I don't wear my nametag correctly, but I have a great handshake. Want to test it?