Art of the handshake
WHO could ever forget that most awkward of greetings between then Labor opposition leader Mark Latham and his adversary and prime minister at the time John Howard? Latham’s handshake inside a radio station during the election campaign of 2004 was a display of pure masculine aggressiveness and was quite simply hard to watch. It was a competition in a handshake. Big man against little man. New opponent against established guard. There was a healthy dose of bullying behaviour in there. Of course, history shows that Mr Howard was not intimidated and that Mr Latham, beside that weird handshake moment, had a whole lot of other weird issues going on. Society and our culture has come a long way over the centuries. Curtsies, bowing and a kiss on the hand are as outdated as Donald Trump’s hair and irrelevant in people’s lives, except for the Royal family, but the handshake remains the universal greeting – including for women – in the modern age. Thank heavens. As much as I enjoy meeting new people, I wouldn’t want them to grab my hand and plant a slobbery kiss on the back of it.
However, what makes a good handshake and are we in danger of losing the art of this warm and respectful welcome?
The wet fish: It’s like being offered a mackerel in the last throes of its life.
You take the offered fish with great expectation and just as you go to pump up and down, its body falls limp and you are left to try to resuscitate it by slapping it around in the air. When you realise there is no life left, disappointment sets in and you know that the ensuing meeting and relationship will forever be tarnished by that poor first impression. A most disappointing fishing trip. The ‘I don’t know what to do because you’re a woman’ welcome: An outstretched hand comes out but just as
you go to accept it, there is a change of mind.
They lean in, puckering up, ready for a peck on the cheek. But it’s too late and you’ve already started to accept the original handshake.
If either of you get out of this without a headbutt and embarrassing grope it’s a miracle. I suggest saving the situation with a laugh and accepting both — but one at a time please.
The handshake avoider: This greeting is generally between women but can be a cold substitute of the real thing.
The players on the American women’s golf tour are big fans of this approach.
Instead of shaking hands at the end of a game they engage in a faux hug, being careful not to truly embrace, and then politely pat each other on the back. No, no, nooooooo. The perfect handshake? Eyes lock, arms outstretch, hands link perfectly in a firm but polite grip before moving in wonderful, respectful harmony.
THE PERFECT HANDSHAKE? EYES LOCK, ARMS OUTSTRETCH, HANDS LINK PERFECTLY IN A FIRM BUT POLITE GRIP BEFORE MOVING IN WONDERFUL, RESPECTFUL HARMONY.