My Three Cents


New Year’s resolutions are known for strength in January, February and maybe even March, but the commitment tends to fade as the year progresses.

Thus, I offer an uncommon New Year’s resolution that will not shake the world but will communicate solid resolve: Pledge for all of 2018 to always give a firm handshake! There are so many advantages.

Comments an ex-government official on the Art of Handshaking: “Even a passionate germaphobe like Donald Trump acknowledges the potential power of a strong handshake. Good handshakers are seen as being more extroverted and, eventually, more hirable.  And women with strong handshakes have an advantage over men, because their grips are more memorable.”

University of Iowa research (http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2008/may/050608firm_grip.html) has confirmed the power of a firm handshake in the job interview process.

Personally, I see a handshake as a simple, but important, gesture of humanity … and I worry that it will soon be replaced by the fist bump, air kiss or a mumbled “hi” by someone who can’t bear to let go of his or her smartphone for even a minute.

When hands clasp correctly, chemicals – including the bonding hormone, oxytocin – are released and the resulting good feelings help promote harmony and friendship.

Of course, not every handshake is a good handshake. I’ve just read a fascinating article in Psychology Today (http://ww.psychologytoday.com/blog/spycatcher/201307/the-art-handshaking) by Joe Navarro, a former FBI Counterintelligence Agent and an expert on nonverbal communications and body language. He contends that a bad handshake – one that’s wet, limp, or bone-crushing – can live on in the memory for a very long time. I agree.

That’s because negative emotions associated with a bad handshake are stored in that part of the brain (amygdala/hippocampus) that helps us to assess for danger, according to Navarro. “It is this area of the brain that helps us to remember, just from one experience, not to touch the hot stove or eat putrid food.”

So how do you ensure that your handshake is a good one? Adopt a handshake that suits the culture of the person you are greeting. If you go to Turkey or the Middle East, handshakes may be very gentle – that is a good handshake to them,” says Navarro. “In Utah you are going to get what is called a Mormon handshake: enthusiastic, vigorous, and prolonged.”  Solid, enthusiasm, firm and quick are to my liking.

In other words, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Send off the New Year in joyous style with a memorable handshake! Be it your resolve!

thought leadership

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