The Priceless Art of the Handshake

aggie-terminologyAs tradition had it, as a freshman in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, or a “Fish”, as I was called, I was required to meet upperclassmen in the following manner:

“Howdy! Fish Pinkerton is my name.  What’s your name, Sir?”
My name is Mr. Smith.
“Where are you from, Mr. Smith?”
I’m from Houston, Texas.
“What are you studying Mr. Smith?”
I’m studying business management.
“I’m glad to have met you, Mr. Smith.”

In twenty seconds or less, I had learned the person’s name, home town and course of study. But what I had really learned was The Art of the Handshake, which was priceless.

As I listened to your feedback from last week’s blog, 13 On-Ramps to Uncommon Relationships, I kept being nudged back to one particular on-ramp: Extend the Right Hand of Friendship.  It was as if I wasn’t quite done writing about that one.  As I discussed the topic of on-ramps last week in the midst of hearing about family and friends’ kindergarten to college graduations, the nudge I was feeling turned into more like a flashing billboard:

“Give a priceless gift,
not only to our honored graduates,
but to all those who look to us for direction.
Share The Art of the Handshake.”

The Walk Up
Stand up or walk up to the person…
Shoulders back and standing tall…
Extend your right hand…
Smile and maintain a pleasant countenance…
Look the person in the eye during the entire process, then…
Firmly grasp their hand and shake up and down (not too soft and not too hard).

The Greeting
Speak clearly in a normal, slightly elevated tone:
“Hi, my name is __________”
Wait for them to respond with their name. Depending on the situation they’ll usually respond either with a first name or a formal response depending on the situation:
“My name is Bill” or “My name is Mr. Bill Jones”.
In a very relaxed response, give a greeting followed by repeating their name:
“I’m pleased to meet you, Bill or Mr. Bill Jones”
Usually they’ll respond with a similar greeting back to you.

The Walk Away
As you move away from the encounter, if the opportunity presents itself, give one more name recognition and offer the opportunity to continue the friendship, if appropriate:
“Good to have met you Mr. Jones.  I hope to see you again at ______.”

One Big Tip:
Think about something that might help you remember the person’s name. Maybe their name rhymes with the event you’re attending; they look like someone with the same name; ask for a business card; jot down their name, etc.   Always try to say their name as many times as you can. As Dale Carnegie said, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

That’s it!

I’m so tempted to launch into how to expand up on this basic handshake greeting with all kinds of advanced tips and sincere questions that might enhance the relationship, but that’s not my purpose today.  I simply want to encourage you to think about those young people in our path- maybe a son, daughter, niece, nephew, neighbor, co-worker, mentee, and yes, that graduate that needs to know The Priceless Art of the Handshake. 

In a few minutes of conversation, possibly a little one-on-one role playing or simply being an example, you can give someone you care about a priceless gift that will be invaluable on their uncommon life’s journey.

How about right now you make a commitment to share The Priceless Art of the Handshake?

And as always, if you think this information might help someone, please forward it, or better yet, sign them up to receive my weekly blog.

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