I am a shaker not a hugger, and when it comes to shaking; I'm a hammer not a saw.
This does not mean that I will not accept a hug should someone fail to understand the meaning of my outstretched hand and smile (or if they do understand, perhaps they feel totally inadequate when it comes to the art of shaking). All the same, a well executed handshake carries much more support, confidence, and respect than the indiscriminate wrapping of arms. There are different types of handshakes but most are built as some combination of the following: The “hammer” is a firm up and down motion usually containing two or three strokes of the hammer. Most handshakes are predominantly “hammer shakes” although they may contain trace amounts of some other handshakes as well. The saw, as one might expect, is a back and forth motion as if one was working a crosscut saw. There are also the “screwdriver”, “dairyman”, “knuckle roller”, “NRA”, and countless other handshakes most of which are extremely rare – the “soggy noodle” (queue tine hermana Liz), although very common, should not, by any stretch of the imagination be considered a handshake.
Some handshakes though, are harder to analyze than to say that, for example, “it is a 90-10 hammer/saw mix”. One person I know has a handshake that requires a coordinate system to describe (if you havn't had college math I advise skipping this paragraph). Imagine a Cartesian coordinate system in which “z” is up, and initially (my hand being at the origin) the positive “x” axis is along the length of my forearm. The first “stroke” of the shake with this particular individual follows a path approximately following the vector that starts from the origin and extends to the spherical coordinates: (0.2, 13π/12, 17π/36) with ρ being measured in meters. From there the direction reverses and our hands pass back through the starting point and extend to an equidistant point on the opposite side of the origin. This is complicated by the fact that I am still attempting to give her a “hammer shake” and that her elbow performs harmonic motion parallel to the “y” axis with significantly greater amplitude than the corresponding “y component” of our hand movement.
In layman's terms, this is primarily a “saw shake” but has a distinct angled feel to it and a certain twisting caused by the back and forth motion of her elbow.
It is almost sad, when shaking the hands of a large number of people, to come to the realization that precious few people on this earth know how to properly shake hands. Most commonly they are void of energy, have a faint grip, and a shake as though they are trying to scare a fly from the back of their hand. The “dairyman” would be just as bad if it weren't for its rarity, but in a world of limp noodles and weak shakers, receiving a “dairyman” is far better than the average. Still, those who have perfected the firm, simple hammer are in possession of a great gift that few are capable of giving.
If, as you have been reading this, you have come to the realization that you are a “hugger” you are not without hope - in fact it takes very little practice to become a reasonably good shaker but you need to start by identifying that you have a problem and make a conscious effort to fix it. For most this will merely require changing your mindset as you already have what it takes to give a good handshake: If you can pick up a 10 kg book bag with one hand you have more than the required grip and if you can shake a bottle of juice (up and down of course) before you drink it you have the forearm strength and merely need to implement these skills the next time you shake someone's hand. Some of my readers may have a unique handshake, I will not condemn this as it is often an idiosyncrasy that is part of their personality – but if that is the case they should be proud of it.
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