Benutzer:dapete and Benutzer:Ezrimerchant shak...Image via Wikipedia

Today I met with the women behind Pretty Young Profesionnal (PYP).  I met with both Amanda and Kathryn a few months back and it was really great to see their progress.  Not surprising we were discussing things that young professionals, who have just graduated college, should know but might not really know when entering the workforce.  The obvious answer to me is the handshake. 

I was taught at a young age to have a firm handshake. There are certain things that carry you far and I believe that is one of them.  I don't exactly remember the occasion but I certainly do remember teaching my kids.  Each kid was taught by the time they were probably two to shake someones hand.  We would practice.  Firm but not too firm, snug so that your hand fits firmly in the other persons hands and always make sure you look someone in the eye when you make the shake. Also, don't let anyone get away with the fish shake or when he gives you a little clutch.  Just stick your hand in there and go for it. 

I do remember that when the kids were about 3, 6 and 8 we were going somewhere or having an event that I thought it was important to make sure that they were all up on their handshaking skills.  I lined them all up and made them each shake my hand until they got it down and shake each others.  I am sure they laugh about it but I have witnessed them over the years meeting many people of all ages and always putting out their hand to firmly shake the persons hand and saying "hi, i'm whoever, nice to meet you.".  Manners are key.

Many times when I shake someones hand, particularly some men, they say, "wow, you have a firm handshake" as if that is a surprise or an acknowledgement, never quite sure.  Today I told both Amanda and Kathryn a story about shaking hands that I actually learned from my Mother.  She had done the same thing with someone years ago who had worked for her. 

I had a young woman working for me in the 90's.  We were going on a sales call together.  Right before we walked in the office building I said to her, shake my hand.  Her grip wasn't firm, it was soft and limp.  I went on to explain the importance of a good handshake and we stood outside for about five minutes shaking hands until she got it. 

I wonder about her once in a while and if she remembers that day.  I hope that it was a great learning moment that has carried her far into wherever her journey took her.  When she was working for me, she definitely fell under the category Pretty Young Professional 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Pam Simpson

    Wonderful insight and reminder of one of the basics! Read the WSJ article today – great coverage of all you (and family) are doing.  Following blog in future. New nonprofit working with women who previously carried 75 lb bundles eucalyptus branches 10 miles down Mt. Entoto to sell in markets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for less than $1.  Blog and online store live (www.connectedinhope.com) w/ website set to go live next week (www.connectedinhope.org).  Hope to support women’s efforts to develop sustainable, predictable, fair trade income (help them become entrepreneurs).  Any advice and/or connections would be appreciated!  Pam Simpson – Connected in Hope Foundation, Inc.

    1. Gotham Gal

      thanks pam will take a look at the nonprofit

  2. Brittany Haas

    I’m constantly being told I have a great, firm handshake.  I think it’s something that Dad taught me well! 

    1. Gotham Gal

      good one, dad!

  3. leigh

    I think there is a start to a book here 🙂

  4. Dana Ostomel

    SUCH a great article. I too believe in a firm handshake and am always caught off guard, and turned off, by the limp ones. I like your story about teaching someone to do it right.

  5. kenberger

    I say we bring in the Japanese bow. Or, the very recent ‘bump’ ritual.

    1. Gotham Gal

      nice ken

  6. Tereza

    Totally agree!  My mom did it with me and I practice with my kids.Eye contact too.  🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      eye contact, for sure!

  7. rebeccastees

    worst recent social custom:”No problem” as a response to “Thank you”

    1. Gotham Gal

      you are absolutely right.

  8. Mwilkotz

    Manners are key!  Firm handshake, orduce everyone and make thenm comfortable, intmake eye contact when speaking, ask questions – for social life or for work, it’s all so important.

  9. Sloane Davidson

    Love what Kathryn is doing with Pretty Young Professionals. It’s so great to see them featured here!

  10. Chris Loo

    Handshakes are probably right behind the person’s appearance when it comes to “first impression”. When I get to shake hands with whom I expected to be successful influential, sometimes I get surprised and disappointed from a cold and soft grip. I would think that I must not seem impressive enough for them to be interested in knowing me. I’ll then leave them alone and move on to other things. And because of this idea, I always prepare myself to give a firm hand shake to show my sincerity.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I couldn’t agree more. I know a few successful people who have seriouslylimp handshakes and it always makes me take pause and wonder.

  11. Rdsmith925

    Thank you for doing this! The dying art of handshaking. I thank my parents for teaching me this one. Nothing worse than the old “dead fish” (usually cold and sweaty too) handshake from a potential business colleague to engender confidence. And the women who, in time before would just set their hand there…my mother taught me to always respond in kind to a woman’s shake, as some (this was in the early ’60’s) still  had the old-time custom that a woman was not to “shake” hands, just offer one. I wish as well, more would understand the need to open the hand so a handshake can occur and not just the crushing of your or the other’s fingers. And then the (I think) insecure man who thinks it’s his mission in life to demonstrate his vise-like clasp learned and the hand of Heracles himself. Good stuff.

  12. bint Ali

    Just a sidenote, handshakes shouldn’t be used to judge people… in many Eastern cultures, not only do people not shake hands at all, but making eye contact with someone who you respect is considered highly rude.I understand why handshakes are important in some cultures, but we’re varied lot with a rich diversity of backgrounds and respect / confidence is defined in many subtle ways!

    1. Gotham Gal

      totally agree but here in the US, even though there are many people from avariety of cultures that live here, a good hand shake is key.

  13. Mimi

    This is interesting and there are a few cultural items to be aware of.  The firm handshake is important in the US, but in other parts of the world, it’s not valued.  Some Asian and European areas prefer a softer touch, literally.  I remember my surprise when one of my clients in London pulled me aside and asked me why Americans have such “crushing” handshakes.  And then I started noticing that the bulk of people I’d met in the EU had similarly non firm handshakes.  Just something to consider when doing business internationally.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Good to know. I hae definitely read up on the different customs beforetraveling. For instance, tipping in the US is totally different than manyother areas around the world