Let’s talk about the very VERY old ritual of ‘the hand shake’. Back in the days of knights in shining armor, people shook hands to see if the other person was in possession of a weapon. Yup, shaking hands was a way to frisk someone. I guess that’s how dangerous meeting new people was back in the day! Today, shaking hands is used when greeting someone or even when your parting ways with someone you have a connection with.
This behavior might even be in our genetic coding – chimpanzees give each other fist bumps when they reunite as a show of respect (they also kiss and hug). Don’t try to fist bump, hug or kiss a chimpanzee because they can rip your arms off if they want to.
Ok, back on topic. Shaking hands is HUGE in our culture and can make or break life changing opportunities...so lets talk about how to do it right.
The biggest mistake I see others make happens with the initiation of the shake. People neglect to maintain EYE CONTACT. For the love, KEEP EYE CONTACT. I know, I know, it’s risky because you might completely miss hands but don’t fall for the temptation to look down. Keep eye contact. By doing this, you send the unspoken message of being secure – of being confident.
Next, tend to your grip. It needs to be firm. Not CRUSHING the other persons hand bones, but firm. Doing this sends the message that you are capable and can ‘hand’le yourself…pun intended. Should you choose to decimate the other persons hand, the message is that you’re a being aggressive or over-confident – cocky.
Third, if someone offering a handshake and you happen to be sitting down – STAND UP. For the love, stand up and THEN shake their hand. This signals that you respect them enough to out of your way (simply by standing up). It also sends the message that you’re not lazy and you think enough of yourself to rise to the occasion verses acknowledging someone who’s towering over you.
But Jed, what do I do if I don’t want to shake someone’s hand? Great question – shaking hands is a bid to connect. There’s even a ‘connection’ chemical called ‘oxytocin’ that is released in the brain when we have the physical contact/connection of shaking hands. That said, if you don’t respect the other person – or don’t want to connect with them – you don’t have to. Unless you want to check them for weapons.
As always, thanks for supporting this grass roots insight for the masses effort and if you found this to be good info – share it.
Till next time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC