Zen and the Art of the Perfect Handshake

When it comes to anxiety, there isn’t much that can rattle my cage. As a matter of fact, I’d say I live a pretty anxiety-free life.  Except for one thing.  Handshakes. 

Now I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill business handshake.  Or the handshake you would give someone after they won first prize in a spelling bee.  You know, the firm grip, solid eye contact and a couple of up/down motions. I’ve got those down just fine.

I’m talking the “cool guy” handshake (for lack of a better term).  The handshake I get at the skatepark or from the guy with shoes that cost more than my entire outfit. 

Here’s an example:

I’m not sure exactly what happens when I get put in this scenario, but it goes something like this; I sense there's a handshake coming up, my mind starts to go through all the scenarios - Do I go in with a fist bump?  A slap and a bump? A quick shake topped with a hug?  HELP!!  Ok, I got this, do the fist bump, do the fist bump! 

And then of course the other person goes out with an open hand and you get something that ends up being very similar to this:

5 seconds of pure awkwardness.

In writing this post, I actually did research on how to do a perfect handshake and what I found is that it’s vey much analogous to dancing; someone has to lead and someone has to follow. 

Here’s the perfect example of that:

Did you see how Snoop was able to sense that the bump was not the right move and then was able to quickly adjust his approach?  Perfectionism.  Of course Snoop Dog is probably one of the coolest humans that has ever graced the earth and somehow was able to, in stride, go from fist bump to a shake in a way that would make Samuel L. Jackson blush. This is a whole other stratosphere of coolness that I can only dream of.

But to prove that you don't have to be Snoop Dog to still be able to pull off the cool guy handshake, here’s probably one of the most square humans to ever walk the earth and even he can pull it off on a moments notice.

Most people would think that Bernie was leading this dance, however those people would be wrong.  Bernie is the follower. He's able to adjust his approach based on the person he's shaking hands with and not make it awkward.  It takes two to tango. You need a leader and a follower. 

And finally, I came across a video that puts all other handshakes in the history of handshakes to shame.  

Where do I go from here?  My answer is this; I'm never going to be as smooth as Snoop Dog, heck I will probably never be as smooth as Bernie Sanders, so instead, I'm going to own the awkwardness. 

Sometimes you just have to know who you are, be who you are, own who you are and make no apologies for it.

So in my case, it’s something as benign as a handshake, but I truly feel this logic can still hold up to anything that may give you anxiety or make you feel uncomfortable. 

Instead of leaning away, lean in.  Own it.  Make it yours.

I’m Corey and I give shitty handshakes. 


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