The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Extending a hand …

My first boss when I joined a FMCG multinational, as a Management Trainee, several years ago, was educated in the finest schools/colleges (including Cambridge), and was, in fact, a Cambridge Blue cricketer (he played 13 first class matches, I understand).


He did not like me, and through the years, I always sensed that he felt I was an inferior being – mentally, professionally, and socially.


One thing that impressed him about me, however, was the first time I shook hands with him. He looked at me, made a face suggesting that I had crushed his hand, and said, “You have a very firm handshake”.


I cannot fathom why I shook hands the way I did that day, but that moment has stayed in my mind ever since.




Over the years, through interaction with hundreds of people I have learnt the value of a good handshake, and how this does make a difference in the way we are perceived or how we perceive others.


Shaking hands has become accepted as a social grace, and, if nothing else, an acknowledgement and greeting of another person.


And, I have noticed the different ways in which people do this.


There are some who crush your hand, and this hurts. Projecting a strong macho image, perhaps, this comes across as being too aggressive.


At the other end of the spectrum, you come across someone who offers a limp hand that, while, conveying a degree of weakness, also leads you to wonder if the other person is doing this just for appearances sake, and is not really interested.


You also come across people who offer a damp, moist hand, and this makes you focus more on the hand rather than on the person.


I have also learnt that merely shaking hands is not the end of it all. There is the follow-up. Making proper, but moderate, eye contact (to convey friendliness), backing off a bit so as to give the person some physical space (thereby not feel intimidated), and having a smile that denotes that you are genuinely interested in a conversation, all add significant value. The other person begins to feel comfortable.


Handshakes differ from country to country – I have seen elaborate routines in some places, where the gripping of the hand is followed by a mutual encircling of thumbs.


It is a simple gesture, for sure, but it can make a difference. Worth thinking about.


Am not sure where that Cambridge Blue is these days. But, if nothing else, he did teach me something.


March 21, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that | ,

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