Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Articles, Blog | 0 comments


Dinosaur Dad: Who was it that taught you how to shake someone’s hand? Or maybe I should ask, do you know how to shake hands? It was my dad who taught me to shake hands firmly and with a purpose. He did it over time, starting with “always look the person in the eye….”. Eventually, by just doing it, a good, firm handshake (not a competition handshake like I’m trying to break the guy’s hand, but firm) became automatic unless I was shaking a lady’s hand in which case I would be sure to be a bit more gentle….yet firm…’s a subtlety.

While I think the hand shake is not completely going away anytime soon, I see it less and less. Especially if we are among friends, we often opt for the “newer”, and more informal, fist bump (where that thing came from I have no clue). Maybe it’s our culture of casualness, the hand shake seems so formal when you are wearing jean, soft loafers and a t-shirt with a skull on it! Or, among men, the hand shake has given way to the “guy hug” in which we begin to shake hands then pull each other close to perform a half hug while still clasping firmly to the hand shake and uttering the word “dude”. We have gone too casual in our manner of dress, speech and how we conduct ourselves in our day to day lives. That’s not to say we have to wear a suit and tie and speak with a fake British accent, but can we at least stop wearing sweatpants to the store and start combing our hair again? Of course, let’s start shaking hands again.

It’s been suggested to me that people don’t want to shake hands for fear of too many germs. Excuse me, but when did we get so mamby pamby and phobic about a few germs….WASH YOUR HANDS! No, I lump the lack of hand shake etiquette on the lack of instruction such as I got from my dad, just like he taught me how to shave and tie a necktie (both of which I think we should return to…shaving and wear a necktie from time to time). In a recent survey, Human Resource Directors said that in a job interview, all things being equal, the candidate with the best handshake often gets the job! A good, friendly, firm handshake is a deal sealer, a tip of the hat that says “…I agree, we’re all on friendly ground, it’s good between us.”. I’ve been told that the history of the handshake was to show that you didn’t have a weapon and that both hands were used.

So here then are a few tips for you and, if you’re a dad, pass these along to your son. I found these on (I would add to look the person in the eye).

1- Extend your right hand to meet the other person’s right hand.

2 – Point your thumb upward toward the other person’s arm and extend your arm at a slight downward angle.

3- Wrap your hand around the other person’s hand when your thumb joints come together.

4- Grasp the hand firmly and squeeze gently once. Remember that limp handshakes are a big turnoff, as are bone-crushing grasps.
5- Hold the handshake for 2 to 3 seconds.
6- Pump your hand up and down a few times to convey sincerity. (This gesture is optional.)

Let’s keep practicing and begin to lose the culture of casual.

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