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THERE IS MEANING IN YOUR HANDSHAKE

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 22, 2014

BRYCE ON LIFE

– It is not a frivolous gesture, but represents something significant; your word.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

If you haven’t noticed, the handshake has been slowly going the way of the Dodo bird. If you watch sporting events, particularly at the youth level, you are more likely to see fist “bumps” or the slapping of hands as opposed to a genuine handshake. These variations of the handshake likely came from pop culture.

The handshake originated from Medieval times when combatants would greet each other with open hands, thereby indicating they were not holding any weapons and could be trusted. Over the years it has evolved into a single hand as opposed to both. With this background in mind, I always believed in giving a firm handshake and look the other person square in the eye. I am not a fan of limp-wrested handshakes, nor do I like a vice-grip shake denoting a contest of some kind. “Glad-handers” are those who work the room saying hello to everyone but not making eye contact; politicians are notorious for this.

When my son came of age, I taught him how to shake hands and greet someone. I believe he still offers a good handshake. These are things fathers need to pass on to their sons, and daughters as well.

The handshake used to mean something meaningful, specifically, your word. For years, a handshake was as good as a contract. Evidently, not so anymore. I have a friend who recently wanted to sell his Les Paul guitar. He went down to the local music store and negotiated a deal with the proprietor to sell it for him. Once they came to an arrangement, they shook on it. This surprised the proprietor who asked my friend, “Don’t you want a contract?”

My friend responded, “Do we understand each other about the terms?”

“Yes,” the owner replied.

“Is your word your bond?” my friend asked.

“Yes.”

“Then we have a deal don’t we?”

The proprietor was taken aback and commented to my friend how this seemed unusual to him. Refreshing, but unusual. He claimed most of the young musicians frequenting his shop wanted some form of contract, and didn’t comprehend the concept of a handshake. I’m not sure why this is, I can only suspect the influence of lawyers. However, if you do not trust the person you are going to do business with, then it will not matter whether it is a written contract or a handshake. In my friend’s case, which wasn’t exactly a major business transaction, it worked out to be a mutually agreeable arrangement.

Back in the mid-1970’s, when we first started doing business in Japan, a delegation from Tokyo approached us to serve as our representatives. We found the Japanese to be tough negotiators, but after we came to consensus, a handshake was all that was necessary to seal the deal. We, of course, signed an agreement later spelling out the terms, but this was nothing more than a formality. Over the many years we did business in Japan, not once did we ever refer back to the paper agreement, just the handshake.

The declining value of the handshake represents another indication of the erosion of our morality. It means we no longer trust each other and are suspicious of the other person’s intentions. Some people will shake, slap, or bump anyone. Not me. If I do not trust you, I certainly will not shake your hand, just as the Medieval combatants wouldn’t. To me, I place a lot of value in the handshake. I would hate to believe that people today think of it as nothing more than a frivolous gesture or as a means to transmit germs.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE MEANING OF TRAITOR – Another history lesson for our youth; Benedict Arnold and today’s terrorists.

LAST TIME:  COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS  – Do not despair, try writing a list of the positive things in life instead.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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8 Responses to “THERE IS MEANING IN YOUR HANDSHAKE”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A B.G. of Kansas City, Missouri wrote…

    “Your article is a good one and true. I also think a “firm” handshake says a lot about a person – man or woman. Even with arthritis – I still try to hand out a firm one.”

    Like

  2. Albert McClelland said

    Brother Tim, Thankyou for a great way to start my week.All of my children, grand and great shake my hand when ever we meet.I started that greeting from the very first time I met them . It has reaped positive recognitions where ever they go.Thankyou again

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone Albert H McClelland O.S.M.,PM

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An R.S. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania wrote…

    “A handshake tells me a lot about a person, especially those I interview. I do notice the characteristics of their hand and often compare it to what they tell me about themselves.

    A person who wants to convince me they regularly do any physical labor with their hands needs the callouses to back that claim up.”

    Like

  4. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    Without a doubt !!

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A W.A. of Westminster, Colorado wrote…

    “Once again you touch upon one of those ‘raw nerve’ topics for those of us who stew over the deterioration of a truly civil society. At what point will these things (firm handshake. eye contact)–things that represent the ‘oil’ of the most basic social contact–become so unusual as to put those who employ them at a disadvantage in dealing with those who do not?

    There had to be a point, as the Victorian Era waned, when a bow or a tip of a man’s hat became first a quaint gesture and finally an odd symbol of a person somehow out of touch with the present. I suppose that all symbolic gestures must eventually give way, when the symbolism becomes lost to the majority of the society. However, in the case of the handshake and the rituals that accompany it, I see nothing replacing it that accomplishes what it has signified for those involved. The presumption of fundamental civility represented by the bow and the hat tip have certainly been replaced by a distinct, and apparently acceptable, roughness of language and gesture. I suppose that the handshake will go that same way eventually, and we shall be the poorer for it.”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Before I graduated from college, we had classes on professional attire, and conduct which included handshaking practice.”

    Like

  7. […] THERE IS MEANING IN YOUR HANDSHAKE […]

    Like

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