Monday, March 29, 2010

We're Not Gonna Take It: The Limp, Dead Fish Handshake

I am instituting a new feature on this blog--an occasional post about things that annoy me. Anyone who knows me knows that I am, among other things, impatient, detail-oriented, a perfectionist, and, as Mother of Ken so nicely puts it, I "don't suffer fools gladly." I've been thinking about doing this for a while, but I was afraid it would be too negative. I have now decided that while it may be negative, most of my posts are positive or at least somewhat humorous, so any negativity will be balanced by the "upbeat and positive" nature of my other posts. Plus, this is my blog and I get to decide what I post. Sometimes you just need to vent. Feel free, gentle readers, to join in the conversation and to tell me what things annoy you.

The first thing that I am going to write about is the limp, dead fish handshake. I. Despise. This. If you are going to make the effort to shake someone's hand, then do it with some conviction. There is nothing worse than shaking someone's hand when the result is a clammy, limp waste of flesh suddenly shoved into your grip that you are forced to support because the person belonging to the hand refuses to do so. This is true for any situation. This has happened to me in professional settings, while passing the peace at church (not exactly handshaking, but still meant to be meaningful contact with another human being), at parties, with people young and old, with women and men--there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why certain people choose to employ the dead fish handshake. I'll make this easy on people who are confused--never do this! Support your own hand, grip the other person's hand firmly, and shake hands like you mean it.

Grandfather of Ken worked on handshakes with me and Brother of Ken while we were still in the hospital, I think. I remember being drilled on proper handshaking technique before I went to school because "you need to know how to do it correctly!" Bear in mind that Grandfather of Ken was a giant Viking in a priest's collar and he had huge, strong hands. This is a skill best learned from someone who is intimidating, but who loves you. His instructions were:

1. Look the person in the eye very clearly.
2. Extend your hand and keep it in line with the rest of your arm.
3. Grip the other person's hand firmly, but don't squeeze so hard that you hurt them, especially if they are old and/or feeble.
4. If it is a dead fish handshake and you need more support, use your left hand as well.
5. Do not hold someone's hand for too long, but do not let go immediately.

This is not difficult. Practice if you're uncomfortable, but I can't think of any reason not to know how to shake someone else's hand with conviction. If you're shaking my hand and telling me that it is nice to meet me, then show me that you mean it! A good, strong handshake has gotten me pretty far in my 28 years and I think that women, especially if they are young, really need to have a strong handshake to let others know that they are not to be trifled with.


Leah said...

My 8th grade English teacher schooled us in proper handshaking, and ever since then, the dead fish handshake has driven me crazy. Best thing she ever taught us. (She was also kind of racist, so it was an interesting class. But she could shake hands well!)

Ken said...

Well, she had at least one redeeming quality...

M said...

Wow, so others actually learned stuff in school? Ken and I, at one time, probably had Jurassic Park memorized - because that movie closely relates to what was called "science".