I want to shake your hand

This entire conversation about handshake techniques sparked from our Content and Interactive Specialist, Spiro Kladis.
Posted: 7 years ago

This all started when DJG President, David Laurenzo, sent out this article via internal e-mail. And then! This entire conversation sparked from our Content and Interactive Specialist, Spiro Kladis:

“Shaking hands is such an antiquated way of meeting people or ‘sizing them up’ as the article put it.”

“The handshake was invented as a way of expressing to the person in front of you that you weren’t carrying any weapons. The handshake is probably more important in Texas, but for us northerners, I think it stinks. It’s just a transfer of germs and god knows what else.”

Interesting viewpoint, Mr. Kladis … aside from the obvious jab at the younger generations for “not shaking hands the right way,” you speak a very true point. Please, go on …

“And this whole figuring out how much strength to use for each individual person is such a mind-bender, I never know how much to use. All it is is a crude way of judging people and their strength/weakness. I don’t know about women, but for most guys, it’s about who goes in stronger and crushes the other person’s hand to the point he goes limp as a means to assert dominance. Every time I shake a man’s hand I think of chimps at the zoo banging on their chest. I dread the experience. And I’ll bet the chimps hand is cleaner than the human’s hand. Not to mention we still don’t know the identity of booger man. Every guy on this floor is still a suspect in my book.”

The booger man reference? We regret to inform you that adults are still guilty of picking their noses and pasting the remnants on the walls, in their office bathrooms, no less.

Q: So Spiro, what’s your technique, then?
A: This is my technique, go in a little strong like I’m just about to open a jar of raspberry jam and then quickly adapt to the other person’s strength. You got, like, one second to increase or decrease grip pressure so you gotta be ready to act fast. Unless of course you already know what the other person is going to do.

Interesting stream of thoughts, don’t you think so, folks? Of course, you do … naturally, we pressed forward with Spiro into this Q&A portion on handshakes to probe deeper into his psyche …

Q: How long have you felt this way about handshakes?
A: Honestly the handshake caught my attention a bit off guard. Don’t get me wrong, I do see the benefit in the handshake. It is a symbol of mutual respect, the final signature on a completed deal, a means of human contact or consolation in a time of need, that final goodbye before leaving. But I still do not like the handshake. For one, germs. I’m not a germaphobe, but I’ve seen things in men’s bathroom (he’s talking our men’s bathroom … to be clear, folks, the men’s bathroom is shared between 5 offices … the culprit is not a DJGer) that would make a U.S. Marine cringe. Two, you never know how much pressure to use on a particular person (explained this in my previous rant). But more importantly, handshakes are the penultimate initiation into adulthood.

Q: What *is* adulthood to you, Sprio? 
A: Adulthood is that time when people start calling you sir more, they no longer check your ID as often, and you can’t check out pretty girls, over the age of 18, without being a creepy old man. Handshakes signify seriousness, it’s the moment when I ultimately realized I was no longer a kid. I guess that’s why I overcompensate by acting immature at times, a feeble attempt to resuscitate that child within me. A time when my imagination was limitless, my energy was plentiful, no personal responsibilities tied me down to anything, and I could eat as much as I want without consequence.

So while I was growing up, every time I shook someone’s hand, little by little my childhood chipped away and then I woke up one morning and noticed my first grey hair, my pants being one size too small, and people calling me Mr. Kladis. But like every storybook soul wandering this planet looking for some meaning to existence and for happiness, adulthood and handshakes are inevitable. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it …

Q: If it isn’t a handshake, what should it be? At least in your eyes …
A: Regardless of handshake benefits, the handshake to me still seems too impersonal. It keeps people at a distance all the while pretending to bring them closer. I think I’d rather hug it out or if you know the person in front of you has bad b.o. or is uber sweaty, go for a fist bump or a high five. In Greece, I remember complete strangers hugging me. I found it strangely comforting having a complete stranger hug me. Although it was a bit disconcerting at first since I wasn’t used to it, I found myself smiling after each hug encounter.

First bumps and hugs … we’re down, Sprio, we’re down.

Q: Do you think there is a difference between how new generations hand-shake and the old? 
A: Absolutely. Like the article, David provided, the younger generation has weaker handshakes. I disagree with the article’s argument that it’s due to less manual labor. I think it has something to do with how millennials are more impersonal in general. My theory is that with the advent of the internet, of emojis, of shorthand text twit chat, thumbs up likes, emotions have devolved into a convenience, a click, a few tip taps on the keyboard and into the next generation of the handshake, hitting enter or clicking submit.

When I see so many people blindly staring into that black mirror on their phone, engaging with the world virtually instead of physically, no wonder their handshakes suck. I know I’m guilty at times of staring at my phone. All I can tell you is what I personally see, a noticeable lack of courtesy and hospitality, of looking down at the phone instead of in the eye, of disinterest in human interaction beyond the virtual.

This may seem like an old Gen X’er whining about the younger generation much as baby boomers did about my generation of slackers and malcontents. But who am I to say what history will show. I guess I’m like the horse salesman yelling at the Gods that the automobile sucks as he slowly goes out of business. Nevertheless, the cultural effects and long term consequences of any new technology that has integrated itself so quickly into every aspect of our life make me a bit worrisome. Maybe I’ve watched too much Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. I’m a cynic at heart when it comes to changes in human nature brought on by technological advances. Especially when technology is evolving so quickly and people not as much. What do we gain and what do we leave behind as we adapt to technology as opposed to technology adapting to us.

Spiro, this blog post is getting way past our typical character limit (DJG recommends no more than 300 – 500 words), but we can’t help ourselves, please do go on!

“This brings me to a quote I actually know by heart and promise I didn’t look up (in spite of my inclination to look it up). “The reasonable man adapts to the world around him. The unreasonable man expects the world to adapt to him. Therefore all progress is made by unreasonable men.” It’s not so much the quote itself that I’m using to strengthen my argument, but whether I was going to force myself to remember it or just look it up. I wanted to make it easier on myself by looking up the quote, to even go so far as to cut and paste it in here rather than type it out. I chose not to because I want to remember it. Forcing myself to type it out and think it through with my mind will only cement it further in my mind.”

He continues. “Which brings me to my point and question, why remember anything at all when you can just look it up? All you have to remember is the bare minimum, that one keyword or phrase that’ll allow google to help finish your thought. And just as quickly as that thought you pretended you knew enters your mind, it’ll leave to make room for that next tidbit of information constantly updated on our smartphones. Fleeting thoughts housed in a mind full of cobwebs.”

Spiro asks HIMSELF the question: What does all that mean for the handshake?
A: Well, laziness breeds weakness … a weakness of both mind and body. What to do? Force yourself to remember that quote. Force yourself to put the phone away. Force yourself to hug a stranger. And whether you’re a baby boomer, a Gen X’er, or a millennial, shake that hand like you don’t give a damn. Firmly grab that sweaty palm till they turn red in the face, look them right in the eyes, and say with a big old grin on your face as you crush every puny bone in the there weak hand, “My generation is the best and yours sucks.” Then laugh maniacally as you walk away listening to the whimpering sounds of pain in the background. But do not sleep soundly dear reader, for you may have won this handshake battle, but the battle to crush other human hands has just begun.

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