When A Handshake Stops Being A Handshake...

...And Turns Into A Death-Struggle

A handshake is a great way to connect, person to person.

It’s also a good way to pass germs and viruses, but that’s another story.

I found a fascinating article about the history of the handshake on, unsurprisingly, History.com. Here’s a quote…

“By extending their empty right hands, strangers could show that they were not holding weapons and bore no ill will toward one another.“ But handshakes are more than just a historical leftover. The article goes on to explain that, “one of the earliest depictions of a handshake is found in a ninth century B.C. relief.” And that, “the handshake was a symbol of good faith when making an oath or promise. When they clasped hands, people showed that their word was a sacred bond.”

Nice firm sacred bond you have there...

You can read the rest of the article by clicking ==> HERE <==

Something that IS a leftover from history is the “dominant handshake.” That’s that thing where someone (usually a man) forces their hand on top in the handshake, in an attempt to give themselves a literal upper-hand. The last few times someone pulled it on me, I couldn’t help myself… I genuinely and authentically laughed thinking…

“Do you still think this works?”

Jeez Donnie... Can I have my HAND back?

It’s a hilariously obvious attempt to cover up one’s own insecurities and inadequacies. By the way, it’s often performed as a sneak-attack, as if the only way this “player” can win is to cheat. After receiving their “dominant handshake” I went on to “dominate” our business relationship for 3 reasons…

  • Winners deliver quality… not head-games.

  • The dominant handshakers think that’s all they have to do. Overconfident and over-simplified… they usually failed to deliver.

  • Finally, it’s that old vaudeville bit. “I know that you know that I know that you know what you’re doing” … you’ve been busted.

Pictured above... subtlety.

To think someone actually believes this will work makes me laugh every time. And here’s what happens after their “dominant handshake” makes me laugh; they deflate. They deflate because they’ve been caught out as a sham.

Laughter is powerful.

Sadly I LIVE for this emoji.

I teach improv for business and often travel to my client’s offices where we do the workshop and then a short showcase. It’s always a lot of fun but it’s sometimes a challenge.

Pictured above... a shameless plug.

One time, I did a workshop in a women’s prison. As I enter the prison the mostly male guards (how is this a thing?) were physically aggressive. They take my arm and push me through doorways. I immediately know that their attitude is a recipe for disaster so I speak to them honestly…

“Guys… when I get the participants up on their feet and improvising, I have no control over what they’re going to say. They might make fun of you guards. The trick is to go along with it. That’s how you show REAL power. If you get angry, they have you. You’ve shown your hand. If you play along by smiling, nodding and chuckling you show that you are powerful. That you can take it.”

I see nothing but scowls in reply.

You make an excellent point, Funny-man...

The guards, (who were probably dominant handshakers), immediately get angry when they receive even the gentlest poke in a scene. That encourages the participants in the workshop to go further. Pretty soon the people in charge end the workshop and put everyone in lockdown. Fun side-story, several of the guards threatened me, should we ever meet on the outside. And THAT made me laugh because, “No, no you won’t.” It was an impotent threat.

ALL my threats are extremely POTENT.

The “dominant handshake,” “negging” women or driving a Humvee… they’re all fake power grabs. Everybody knows it and they’re amused by the naivety of a person who thinks these tactics actually work. You’ve shown your hand to be full of empty gestures.

Was this by Picasso or Monet?

The most powerful thing you can be is comfortable enough in your own skin to authentically connect with others. That way you’ll be IN on the joke… you won’t BE the joke.

Scotty Watson www.ScottyWatsonImprov.com

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