Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shake it Up

Everyone has a cache of important “go-to” accessories. Maybe it’s important to you that you have a good pair of black pumps or a quality handbag for day to day life. Maybe you believe all you need to succeed is a brilliantly tailored suit or a the perfect pencil skirt. I concur that these things are important but the most important accessory you have isn’t found in a department store or at Cole Haan or Coach.

The best accessory you can have is a good handshake.

I have met so many people lately who have terrible handshakes and frankly it is a disgrace. I was brought up to extend a hand, be firm, smile and look the other person right in the eye while doing so. I am a big fan of handshakes and always whip one out when being introduced (unless it’s more of a friendly situation and I have been drinking in which case I will probably launch myself onto you for a hug, but that is neither here nor there). Even if you are not accustomed to shaking hands, when someone extends their hand to you, you rise to the occasion. You don’t offer a limp hand with no grip and a feeble “hi”. You are not the Pope, I am not going to kiss your ring. Nor are you royalty and will be getting a curtsy out of me. You extend the hand, grasp firmly (not too firmly, though), shake, smile, and eye contact. It’s a simple thing but you would be surprised how many people don’t get it.

I think a bad handshake is unacceptable in every day life but in the business world I think it is an abomination. How can you go to a work function and throw around your limp fish hand and expect anyone to have a good first impression of you? Instead of thinking “Wow she seems like a pleasant person” the people you meet instead are thinking “How does she get anything done with that palsy of the hand? Poor thing”. Not to mention shaking a limp hand gives me the heebie jeebies. Ick.

So there you have it, if you are not capable of a good handshake then feign illness or xenophobia and refrain from interactions with people you don't already know.


Jeff Cutler said...

What about societies that use bows or other types of acknowledgment to signify greeting?

I agree that a wuss handshake is crummy for everyone involved, but as liberal-focused individuals continue to grant non-citizens access to everything in this country, we're going to see a variety of greetings.

Maybe the handshake, the use of the blinker, the personal-space dictum and the use of English as the main language should go in a book that everyone gets when they step into the United States.

I think we're a great destination for people from all over the world, but France, China, England, etc. wouldn't hesitate to toss me into their jails if I didn't follow their laws. Maybe it's time we did the same.

Hmmm. Hope I don't break my foot falling off my soapbox.

Also hope you're healing well.


Randall said...

AMEN! From the time I was little my father would show me how to give a good, solid and strong handshake. He always said that was so important, especially for a woman. Today I will get random compliments from business men... "Nice handshake!"

I couldn't agree more that it is a necessary accessory!

Nicky said...

I agree! And I think gender is no excuse for a poor handshake. As a woman, I think I give a pretty good and firm (though not crushing) handshake. The worst shake I ever got from someone had barely two fingers involved and was like shaking a dead wet trout. I found out later the guy had some sort of leaking cut or other nastyness on his hand leading me to wonder - why did he offer his hand at all??? I would've been happy with an explanation of why he couldn't shake! Don't extend your nasty ooze-filled injury to me! Ew! Ew! Ew! I think a handshake is a telltale sign of someone's personality: and that guy continued to annoy me for the rest of the evening. /o:

Sarah said...

Haha Nicky that is gross. A few days after I burned my hand I was introduced to someone at work and I kind of gestured at my guaze wrapped hand and was like "Sorry I can't shake your hand" and he was like "Oh I don't mind" and went to shake my hand anyway. Like I was refraining for HIS sake and not mine. Haha!

Becky said...

Here here!!!

Those gross hand stories above are... gross yet funny.

(Wow how profound Becky. Me need more coffee)

San said...

100% agree..."shaking a limp hand gives me the heebie jeebies" as well!!

Editorgirl said...

I couldn't agree with you more! There is nothing more off-setting than greating someone with the wet fish handshake and I can't believe how many "high powered professionals" and men even who don't have a firm handshake. It just makes me very suspect.

hope505 said...

" liberal-focused individuals continue to grant non-citizens access to everything in this country, we're going to see a variety of greetings..."

uh...don't hold your breath on that on, cutler. I'm guessing that even if we sent out worldwide invitations to come on over to our swell country, the handshake would still continue to be the american standard greeting.

But I fully agree with the OP ~ I, too, have been complimented on my "good" handshake. *haha!*
* ; )

On RARE occasions, however, the person I was greeting (a man, usually) might comment "ow. gee that's a firm handshake." or "I think you broke my hand" which I just take in stride, figuring they're feeling some sort of threat to their masculinity from a woman with a good firm handshake.

The One and Only Kristy J said...

the worst thing is when you meet men in positions of authority who have limp pathetic handshake. i met so many people like that when i started my new job. i giggled inside thinking my handshake was stronger than was a good day.
like the post!

WSU Laura said...

I agree. Nothing worse than a limp handshake, it puts me off that person. I really believe it reflects poorly on the individual. Great entry!

eileen said...

I'm totally with you on this one! I HATE limp handshakes. Ugh, what is wrong with some people?!? (not the foreign ones...Jeff, I mean people raised in the culture or handshake but refuse to grasp it. Haha see what I did there? Grasp it?

Jenny said...

I completely agree!! This is such a pet peeve of mine. I was raised to shake hands the exact same way as you and when I get a wet fish hand, it's all I remember about the person.

Anonymous said...

Oh, totally. I wouldn't say I have a bone crushing shake, but I certainly try to be firm. I am really disturbed when I get the wet fish. I wish I could say something. It's hard to be firm when you are handed a limp clam. Do they think they are being delicate? Ugh.