The PA based band, Live, wrote a song in the early 90's called "The Beauty of Gray" which contained the lyric: "This is not a black and white world, to be alive, I say the colors must swirl"....and I buy that, to a degree, but there are some things that contain little to no middle ground....examples:
You either know how to throw a frisbee or you don't.
You can either parallel park or you can't.
You either love black licorice or you hate it.
You can either hit a curve ball or you can't.
You either "get" John Coltrane or you don't.
You either know how to BBQ or you don't.
You either have a good handshake or you don't.
That last one is what I want to touch on.
It's important, especially as a male, in our society to have a solid handshake. Throughout history, deals have been made and broken based on the quality of a handshake. It's an often overlooked skill, but, in my opinion, there are far too many weak handshakes given out these days. Now, admittedly, there are dozens of different types of handshakes...the pound, the fist bump, knuckles, the crusher, the soul brother, palm up, palm down, the "double cover", the close-shaker, the hipster, the queen fingertips, the yank-and-pull, the lingerer, the sweater, the politician, the hand wrestler, the teacup...the list goes on and on.
Tonight I taught Gavin how to give a good, solid handshake. In order to know how to give a good handshake, it is important to know the specifics of what makes up a bad handshake. We focused on three specific handshakes:
1. The Dead Fish
This is the handshake where you extend your hand only to receive a limp wristed, pressureless wad in return. No grip. No firmness. It feels more or less like you just grabbed an uncooked boneless chicken breast. A quick story:
I have a friend of mine who tells this story....(I won;'t reveal who he is, but if he reads this, he'll immediately know that I'm talking about him)...
he was a product of the 70's and 80's music scene...he had the rare opportunity to meet one of his musical heroes....here he was, face to face with someone who had a major influence in his life...a man who's music and lyrics helped define him as a teenager....and at that moment of truth...he extends a hand to his hero...finally making a physical connection after years of distant inspiration....and he gets.....
The Dead Fish
worst handshake ever.
completely causes him to reevaluate everything he's ever known about the guy.
At the other end of the spectrum is "The Vice"
This one usually comes from someone who has a buried insecurity about themselves. They feel the need to squeeze your hand to the point that you start to lose key motor function. They must have "the upper hand" as it were....they need you to know that they are, while existentially inferior, physically dominating....this handshake is no good. It only leaves the receiver feeling like they've just met some confused, pathetic, doofus.
Then I taught Gavin about the right way to shake a hand...I'll call it "The Solid".
A firm grip, but not too firm. never over match someones grip. let them determine the intensity. Maintain eye contact through the entire shake. Two full arm pumps, no more. Don't be afraid to break away first and NEVER cover with the opposite hand. And tell them "It's a pleasure to meet you".
That handshake will get you places.
Our society is raising the wimpiest male generation on record. As fathers, let's commit to teaching our boys how to work, how to build, how to suck it up, how to lead, and how to have a firm handshake. If we can at least get that far....there may be some hope for the next generation. But let's start slow....
For the love of God...don't ever...EVER, let your son give a "Dead Fish".