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Very useful podcast which often gets overlooked by people.

One thing that wasn't covered which I have heard a lot from people (which I don't EVERY do myself) is:

"Oh, I better not shake your hand, I have a cold."

Personally, I think if someone is so sick they can't touch you, they shouldn't be touching the door knob either to come into the office. What would you do in this situation? I try to usually just say, "That's OK" and try to shake their hand anyway, but it is awkward whether you get to shake their hand or not still.

Any comments?

garthk's picture

[quote]"Oh, I better not shake your hand, I have a cold." [/quote]

Colds hit your respiratory tract. They spread when you cough, sneeze, or exhale, or touch something on which you coughed, sneezed, or exhaled.

Let's assume you've been cornered into attending a meeting despite not being your best, and that you don't want to spread your cold. Wash your hands, and avoiding touching your nose until after the greetings. Easy. You'll still be blamed by anyone who subsequently catches the cold from their kids or [other] co-workers, of course, but you were already in a lose-lose situation, right?

Now, how do we deal with one of those guys who holds out his hand palm-down in some lame superiority gambit? You can grip the top of their hand and shake it if you don't mind never dealing with the guy again, but there has to be a better way...

Mark's picture

I generally think of this as polite, and appropriate, and so I don't mind. In a sense, as often as I am shaking hands with people, I appreciate their gesture.

The palm down thing is just stupid. If you know that, you don't care what they think of you. If you don't play their game, they can't win...

Mark

MattJBeckwith's picture

Having now listened to every one of your podcasts I can now say that this one is one of my favorites. It does drive me crazy when I get one of those finger grippers, hand crushers or shoulder grabbers but I never really knew how to give the feedback. Thanks for the very detailed discussion!

garthk's picture

... and finding a) that it's easy, and b) that it's effective. Nice one!

Mark's picture

Folks-

If I can talk for nearly an hour about handshakes, you have to wonder how long I could go on about managing change...

:-)

Glad you liked it.

Mark

tom.evans's picture

The question about having a cold reminded me of the time I had a deep cut on my finger wrapped in a band-aide. The day after I injured my finger, I had a meeting with my CEO and when he went to shake my hand, I appologizingly denied and left him standing there with his hand out. I just couldn't bring myself to endure the impending crush-grip with that fresh wound. It was very awkward for me, but he took it well (I think).

Domanico's picture

Mark,

I'm a big fan of your podcasts here in Brazil and trying to implement all the tips you're giving to me in my company.

But the tip about baseball bat was impossible for me to test. As you may know we're a soccer country and unfortunately baseball is a sport with few fans in Brazil. Dou you have another object that I could use to have a good grip?

Best regards and Congratulations for the programm.

Sergio

Brent's picture

It strikes me that gripping one end of a paper towel tube -- without crushing it at all -- might be a reasonable approximation.

garthk's picture

Having trouble figuring out how firm your grip should be? Practice with your co-workers, family, and friends. I figure it shouldn't take more than a dozen attempts before you've got it right.

Mark's picture

Sergio-

I want to suggest a broom, but there are too many variations. Under the circumstances, I think Garth is probably on the right track.

Brent, I either misunderstood you, or vice versa. The whole point to the bat was that in order to hold it parallel to the ground, you have to grip it noticeably more firmly than what would crush a paper towel roll.

Mark

Brent's picture

Hmmm. I guess our paper towel rolls have different strengths. :-) It would take quite a bit of strength to crush one of the paper towel rolls I use.

Or maybe I need to grab a bat and practice a bit....

Peter.westley's picture

Great podcast. I'm still working through all these but thought it worthwhile to make a comment on my experience.

It's hard to believe that someone has spent the time to study the handshake enough to put a podcast together on it (you geek Mark!) .... but having said that, it is something I too have considered in detail ;-)

[b]Twist (or is it spin?)[/b]
Especially with respect to that last "thrust" of energy into the web to make sure a good contact is made, I use a subtle flick up of the hand and down of the wrist. It's the same move that would happen if you had a bolt or screw going through the centre of your palm (heaven forbid!) and your hand "hinges" or spins on that axis. The move is almost imperceptible, but it has the effect of that last moment thrust and ensures meeting webs.

[b]Having a second Go[/b]
As for a 'missed' handshake (when you end up grabbing fingers and not making good web contact), I will often make a little light of the fact and say something like "oh that was a bit sad wasn't it? Let's have another go!" I find that most people will be thinking the same thing and be experiencing that "eeewwwww" feeling and be more than happy to have another go. Then it all helps to get the meeting off to the right start - it clears the air so to speak. Of course it does depend on the situation and it's not always appropriate to try a second go.

[b]Warm hands[/b]
One other thing I usually do is to try and make sure my hands are warm if I know I'm going to be shaking hands. It's not always possible but worth the effort to make the experience better for your new acquaintance...

Mark's picture

Peter-

Perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black:

"Geek!"

:lol:

Mark

cowie165's picture

[quote="Peter.Westley"]
[b]Having a second Go[/b]
As for a 'missed' handshake (when you end up grabbing fingers and not making good web contact), I will often make a little light of the fact and say something like "oh that was a bit sad wasn't it? Let's have another go!" I find that most people will be thinking the same thing and be experiencing that "eeewwwww" feeling and be more than happy to have another go. Then it all helps to get the meeting off to the right start - it clears the air so to speak. Of course it does depend on the situation and it's not always appropriate to try a second go.
[/quote]

Peter I'm going to give that a try next time. I can relate to the "eeewwww" feeling and should have considered that is exactly what the other guy or girl is thinking. :)

ck_1's picture

I just downloaded this one today (my fourth Manager Tools following Juggling Koan and Managing Your Boss 1 & 2). I didn't consider there were so many dimensions to a handshake!

I've always thought I had a pretty good handshake and after listening to the podcast I now know why! Though like many "young" people I probably gave too much attention to "the grip". I have lots of friends who only judge a handshake by how much damage they can do with the grip - even on women! It's nice to have someone backing me up that it's not all about the grip!

juliahhavener's picture

I also found it to be a great family-bonding exercise. My son (13), my partner and I listened to the entire podcast one evening and spent some time just practicing. Some of the things Lee came up with were just FUNNY. Very hard to deliver a good handshake with a kiddo making goofy faces at you. Great practice for expecting the unexpected when meeting new people!

Mark's picture

Mike and I noticed our guests at Tomasso's in North Beach last night trying VERY HARD to have good handshakes... and they all DID.

My hand is now SORE for shaking hands at the speech I just gave... many folks ATTACK because of my size.

And get this... I NEVER KNEW that Mike left that cast one long one, of 50 minutes. WOW... killer.

;-)

Mark

MattJBeckwith's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Mike and I noticed our guests at Tomasso's in North Beach last night trying VERY HARD to have good handshakes... and they all DID.[/quote]
I am so glad to hear that. As I met everyone else last night I kept thinking, "Wow, great handshakes!"

[quote="mahorstman"]And get this... I NEVER KNEW that Mike left that cast one long one, of 50 minutes. WOW... killer.[/quote]
The look on your face when we told you it was one 'cast was great! The consensus of the group seemed to be that the handshake show was 10 brilliant steps that just couldn't be split into multiple shows... and I bet I wasn't the only one that reviewed that particular 'cast before meeting you guys.