The Handshake

It may seem like a bit of an odd topic for someone missing digits, but today I’m going to discuss the handshake and what a “normal” handshake feels like. Focusing on being normal is not something I’ve done most of my life, just ask anyone who knows me. I’m not sure if people would go as far to say I followed the beat of my own drummer, but there have been many examples where I wasn’t concerned about being called weird. I remember as a kid I would bend my index finger into the palm of my hand just prior to shaking someone’s hand and say “Please excuse the wart”. That’s funny as a childhood joke, but it is not the feeling I’m going for now. I don’t want people to notice they’re only shaking half a hand. Initially, it was somewhat troubling for me that I actually had to focus on delivering a normal handshake. Something so seemingly insignificant, yet something that requires attention. When two finger amputees meet, pictured in this photo, it was definitely an odd handshake. It took quite a while to see the humour in this type of thing. My initial mental state, following my injury, I just wanted to hide my hand … for more details check out my blog called Incognito and my YouTube video on Barriers.

I find it amusing that someone missing fingers can actually give a better handshake than someone with all their digits.

So what does a good handshake feel like. Firm, but not overpowering, welcoming, but not intimate. I’m not a big fan of the jelly-fish shake where there’s no pressure applied by the grip, it actually conveys the lack of self confidence and some people find it down right annoying. Gripping too hard can be an issue as well, I’m sure we all know someone who falls into that category. I know farmer who is an awesome guy, but appears to shake hands with the intent to injure. He’s a big, friendly, burly guy in his 70’s and the hard handshake is part of his shtick with younger men. I can recall the first time I shook his hand after my injury, I was definitely apprehensive, but he was so gentle and it was such a meaningful handshake to me.

Throughout my life in the business world I work alongside many different clients and I’m constantly meeting and greeting new people. I knew I would be getting lots of practice to get my grip just right, but every once in a while I forget my hand isn’t normal. Every once in a while my middle finger hits the finger web of the hand I’m shaking (not comfortable for either of us), or I offer a Queens shake where only my fingers are involved in the shake, or I inadvertently stab their web (between the index finger and thumb) with my shortened index finger, or I wince when they shake my hand too hard.

I’m cautious not to give too much attention to the handshake, but past performance indicates that I need to keep it in mind. My apologies to those of you where my hand has come up a little short, but I’m playing the hand I’ve been dealt 😉 It isn’t the blatantly obvious injury I thought it would be, in fact, I have worked with some people for many months before they even realized I had an injury. It has required awareness and slight adaptation, but no where near what some people deal with daily. If you’ve read this blog to the end, let me know when you greet me with a good handshake 😉

Comment below … What was your most memorable handshake? Or most awkward?

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