Tuesday, September 09, 2008

- Do you have a teenager?

This may be a tricky issue, as some children may view parental advice with suspicion, but I've just experienced a major hand-shaking event with various friend's children & friends of theirs. 

I feel compelled to alert parents: in addition to the drug, alcohol and sex conversation, you need to tell/show/explain to your child how to shake some one's hand. Yes, I experienced a lot of 'dead fish,' 'limp noodle,' 'wet dishrag' and 'consumptive squeezes.'

I wondered if anyone had explained to them what a handshake was supposed to be--not that all adults are free of the aforementioned problem, but this seemed excessive, perhaps indicating cluelessness.

I don't want to go all Dale Carnegie on you, but he has a point. A handshake is a big first impression, and surely it's not too hard to offer a firm grip, a brief squeeze and release. You can even throw in eye contact for extra credit.

Maybe it's an issue of a child/young adult not feeling confident, but I don't care--act it, at least. Surprisingly, confidence will come and people will give you the benefit of the doubt for starters.

Reach out an touch someone...properly.

10 comments:

Katie Alender said...

An excellent point. A handshake can instantly change your impression of someone--on rare occasions for the better (I've assumed people were milquetoasts until they caught me in their iron grips) but much more often for worse. Nothing is creepier than a limp handshake!

Teagan Oliver said...

My day job is as a Customer Service Manager for a grocery chain. I do a lot of interviewing with teenagers and I've run across the handshake thing quite often. I hate to admit it, but it does play a large part in my perception of them. Also, if they look me in the eyes and if they refrain from wearing jeans for an interview. I'm not saying that the ones with the wimpy handshake don't make good employees, but the ones who have a good handshake normally have self-confidence. Something, all kids should have. Sorry for the soapbox, I get rather passionate on the subject.

Teagan Oliver
www.TeaganOliver.com

Isabel Swift said...

Katie & Teagan-thank you for you firm endorsement of the issue--so glad to know there are others with the same impression. And love the personal perspective Teagan--if only I had my own teenager to perfect. I'll have to settle for nieces & nephews....

Sandra Hyatt said...

I have teenagers and I've just assumed they have good handshakes. I'll be checking as they walk in the door from school this afternoon.

Candi said...

Sad reality?
The good handshake and eye contact are near to myths; along with opening doors for the elderly, the title MR., Mrs., Sir, and Ma'am, soap in the mouth for cursing and a good long restriction for getting caught smoking.

Ah the wonders of too many opinions on how to raise our children...

My Army father perfected our handshakes when we were very young, and I'm so thankful he did. I hated hearing 'look at me when you speak' but I repeat it to my own children now. lol

Isabel Swift said...

I'm with you, though I'd go for Ms for parity. I figure if it's so important to know if a woman is married by the honorific address, then it should be equally of interest to determine if men are married or not, yes? But I don't think I'm going to be able to sell a Mister/Master differentiation (or whatever the unmarried man referent should be), so I go for a level playing field. Usually, I just drop the honorific, but it can be nice to know if people are boys or girls...!

Jessica said...

LOL Isabel
I hate to say it, but I never have even thought about my handshake. I'm 25 and don't recall anyone ever teaching me how to do it either. And I've never thought of teaching me kids it.
:-)
So I just learned something. Thanks!

Isabel Swift said...

Jessica: exactly my point. No one ever thinks to 'teach' something like this, (though parents will say 'don't mumble' and 'cut your hair') and it's worth thinking about, because it does create an impression. Many people just don't think about what the OTHER person's response is.

Now that I'm thinking deeply about handshakes, I've noticed a strange PR/Publicity handshake. I don't know if it's official, but 3 out of 3 PR types (all women) gave me a weird feeling handshake with their top two fingers (index and second) held stiffly like a board. Ick. Is it supposed to demonstrate intensity or focus? Enquiring minds want to know....

Missy Tippens said...

I'm glad it's not just me who thinks about this! Anytime my children are going to be receiving awards or diplomas, etc., I make them practice the handshake/look them in the eye. :) I hounded my son as we drove to a college scholarship interview last spring.

BTW--he got the scholarship! :)

Hmm. I think I need to quiz my younger children again...

Isabel Swift said...

Missy: congratulations to your son (and you)! Great story. It may not be fair, but I have to say one does interpret a handshake/eye contact as an outward and visible sign of inward confidence and desire to connect.

What is so frustrating is that often people who DON'T have much to offer have really learned the trappings (I guess there's nothing else substantive to focus on) and are great at 'selling' themselves. Those that are genuine don't bother, don't think, or are turned off and do themselves and others disservice by not paying attention to the outward as well as the inward requirements.