The Power of a Hand Shake!

in Hand

When did you last shake someone's hand and were you using it as a greeting or a goodbye?

Some of us have been shaking hands since we were children, but these days we are discouraged to touch another person for a whole host of reasons.

Sometimes it may not be appropriate as it may be against someone's religion to 'touch' a stranger or there may be a risk of contamination (usually a consideration for those working in health and social care). 

Either way many in the community (young or old alike) are not encouraged to shake a person's hand through fear of rejection or ridicule and have not been introduced to the art and skill of handshaking.

The origin of the handshake goes back before written records, however we know the Greeks used a handshake when completing business and the Arab community have a history of shaking hands as of their trading customs.

Regardless who started using it, the handshake occurs in many cultures and in fact people all over the world take part in hand shaking rituals as part of their daily routine.

When a person offers their hand out, they don't want anything in return except a handshake andBesides this being a greeting or goodbye, it can be used as a tool for communication, risk assessment and even as a basic health and well being check up!

When you offer your hand to someone and it is accepted for a handshake, it is possible to start noticing some of the following indicators:

· Are they comfortable with physical touch?

· Do they make eye contact?

· Are there any facial expressions?

· How far do they stretch their arm towards you?

· How is their grip strength (strong/weak)?

· What was the temp of their hand (cold/clammy)?

· Did they break the contact first?

The handshake is a useful tool for those who work in Health & Social Care, the Fitness industry and for those dealing with vulnerable adults. Based on some basic observations, it is possible to fairly accurately gauge some interesting things such as:

· The persons current mood

· Whether they feel confident or not  

· The approximate mobility level of fingers, joints of the hand, the wrist, elbow and even the shoulder

· If the person has a temperature

· If they're keen to keep the contact, that might indicate they need reassurance

· If they break contact quickly it may indicate nervousness

So, from a simple handshake we can decide if it is appropriate to continue with our intended task, and review the situation. Although a handshake can't answer every question, it's a very good indication of what you may be able to achieve with the person.

Since it was explained to me about the added bonus of using a handshake, I use it even more than I used to and am constantly surprised at what I can find out about people, when I take the trouble to notice. 

Working mainly with the care sector, I encourage people to introduce the handshake into their daily routines. I also mention the need to maintain high standards of personal hygiene as well as using hand gel before and after shaking hands. 

Many people living alone or in care only receive physical contact when being dressed, washed or moved. With no effort and just a few moments of time, it is possible to provide a very important physical touch to people who miss this form of communication and it's free! 

Next time you offer your hand, remember that it may just make someone feel a little less lonely.

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Tony Duke has 1 articles online

Tony Duke is a physical activity trainer and consultant for the health and social care sector and is a GP Exercise Referral Consultant, and a member of The Royal Society for Public Health. He and his wife Zoe manage Vitalyz Limited, working in the health and social care sector throughout the UK.

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The Power of a Hand Shake!

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This article was published on 2010/03/27