298. Shaking Hands

Today is National Handshake Day.  

I can remember the first time I ever shook hands with anybody.  I was 39 years old.  

In the olden days, ladies of my station in life didn’t have occasion to shake hands with other adults. When introduced to someone, we smiled sweetly and did a curtsy or its equivalent. In case you’re dying to know, a curtsy as we practiced it at the time, was defined as “an act of civility, respect, or reverence made mainly by women and consisting of a gracious nod of the head, or if a nun, priest, bishop, etc., was present, a slight lowering of the body with bending of the knees”.  Strange but true.

It wasn’t till I was working as a systems analyst at Seattle Community College that the need ever arose to reach out my mitt and shake hands.

It may have been due to my lack of experience, or possibly my 12 years of piano-playing, that I never learned to shake hands properly without wounding my victims.  To this day, I catch people wincing when I shake hands with them.  There’s something about my vice-like grip that brings tears to their eyes.

It’s really embarrassing at Mass when we have to do the “Kiss of Peace”, which actually isn’t a kiss, (thank God,) but a handshake. I feel bad about it, but no matter how hard I concentrate, people seem to avoid my bone-crunching grip.  While I’m saying “Peace”, they’re yanking their hand back mentally howling, “Pain!”

In case you suffer from the same handshaking affliction I do, here’s tips from National Handshake Day:

You reveal a lot with your handshake. Are you extroverted, expressive, shy or neurotic? According to a University of Alabama study, your handshake provides a tactile way to read you. Before you extend your hand during the next social, professional or diplomatic event, consider your own handshake. Do you have a firm grip? Is your hand a comfortable temperature and is it dry? Do you keep eye contact?

Miryam S. Roddy of Brody Communications advises everyone to practices their handshakes on National Handshake Day, occurring on the last Thursday in June annually.

Brody Communications offers these tips for an effective handshake:

* Use eye contact
* Be firm but painless
* You should shake hands for about three seconds
* Take only two or three “pumps”
* Start and stop crisply
* Don’t last through the entire introduction

There, I hope this has taught us all a valuable lesson.  Stick with high-fives and hugs.

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