I’ve forgotten how to handshake

Have you also started to doubt your natural instinct to stretch out your right hand to greet someone? In that split-second hesitation, there’s a touch of fear, a hint of uncertainty and a bucketload of awkwardness.

Our inner thoughts spark instant questions with zero time to think about the answers. Do we? Don’t we? Are they happy to do it? In fact, am I really sure I want to do it? Oh god, it’s too confusing.

But doing nothing when meeting someone, feels weird somehow. The alternative toe touching or elbow bumping just don’t seem right either. Without that initial welcoming handshake, the whole interaction feels odd somehow – even a bit disingenuous.

I’m starting to think that this lack of handshaking is causing us to stop communicating effectively. Now, that’s crap.

Are we at risk of losing the ‘how do you do’?

Think about it, the handshake was also combined with eye contact and a warm greeting – something along the lines of, ‘how are you?’ or ‘it’s great to see you again’. The perfect ice breaker to instigate the small talk before the main conversation was to take place. It enabled us to share a moment getting to know someone on a more personal level.

The toe or elbow thing is combined with a false giggle or a murmur of ‘ruddy covid hey?’ And both parties are too busy concentrating on kicking or bumping the right body part of the other person that eye contact is never going to happen.

How to execute the perfect handshake

Let’s take a moment to relearn this simple ritual that we once took for granted.

  1. Identify your right hand. This is the one you’re going to use.

  2. Release the weapon so your right hand is free. This is key. It demonstrates trust. Did you know that this is the origin of the handshake? Back in the day it was a gesture of peace.

  3. Stretch out this hand and offer it to the other person. At this point, they too should have put their weapon to one side and stretched out their right hand. If there’s some doubt, have your left hand ready just in case.

  4. Now is the time your hands will touch in a grasp. Grasp firmly, but not too firmly. And make sure it’s not a weak grasp either.

  5. The shake immediately follows the grasp. The shake shouldn’t be too vigorous, nor should it be static because that’s beyond odd.

Ok, so that’s the basics over with. But we’re about to enter a post-covid landscape so actually we need to add a couple more steps.

6. After releasing your hand from theirs don’t shake off excess bacteria, sweat, crumbs or any other possible transferable objects.

7. Don’t wipe your hand down your trouser leg or dress.

Should steps 6 and 7 be necessary, do it out of sight of others. Until then, keep your hand to yourself and don’t touch anything

Step 8 is optional. This is the use of hand sanitiser before or after the event. If you choose to use this option, again, make sure to do it so the other handshaker doesn’t see.

Are we losing the art of casual conversation?

Having spent, and being ordered to, stay away from others it’s only natural that some of us have become fearful of being in close proximity to another being - never mind touching another person. The quick chats at the water cooler, the pleasantries exchanged in a lift, or a light-hearted chinwag on the bus are at real risk of becoming extinct.

We’re a Creative Agency based in Chester and as such we spend a lot of time watching and listening – this helps with our creativity and inspiration. And it saddens us to see so many reticent people out there keeping their insights, stories, jokes and knowledge to themselves.

Human interaction has the power to make us laugh, be happy and feel like we belong, so let’s be brave and do it anyway!

Author: Andy Johns

Director, Good Comms

Marketing | Advertising | Design | Creative Agency Chester

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