Director’s Notes – Is the Handshake in Hospice?

From a very young age we’re taught the importance of making a good first impression. We learn to be well groomed, properly dressed for the occasion, and to make good eye contact. Through these means, people get a feel for who we are and what we’re about. Without saying a word, we communicate our self-confidence and trustworthiness to those we meet. But the most important and universal means of making a positive first impression may be the handshake.

Simply by shaking hands, we draw conclusions on a person’s character, confidence, and ability to be trusted. By offering a firm but not overbearing clasp of our right hand we can put a stranger at ease about our intentions, let an interviewer know how serious we are about their job opening, or simply convey the understanding that we know how to comport ourselves in modern society.

For men, there’s an even deeper importance for a handshake. While there are many definitions of what makes a man “a man”, the handshake may be one of the most universally accepted ways to judge one’s status. If you’re a man, chances are you’ve either had your handshake critiqued or complimented at some point in your life by an elder. It’s how we communicate our worthiness to each other. A weak handshake conveys a man weak in confidence. A crushing grip says you’re overcompensating for some other shortcoming. Poor eye contact while shaking hands lets others know you’re a man ripe to be taken advantage of. No other act is as critical when meeting and greeting another man as the handshake.

We may very well be standing on the brink of a paradigm shift in how we make our first impressions amongst each other as men. Click To Tweet

The enormity of that act now stands at a crossroads with the advent of COVID-19. With the experts recommending social distancing and avoiding close personal contact for the foreseeable future, we may very well be standing on the brink of a paradigm shift in how we make our first impressions amongst each other as men. If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic it’s that people weren’t washing hands as frequently as they should have been, and many of us have been exposing ourselves to more germs than we previously suspected. It doesn’t seem like life will begin to approach what we previously knew as normal for a while, but even if the virus was completely eradicated tomorrow there would likely be a noticeable shift in the way we conduct ourselves in our daily lives going forward. One of the first casualties of our new way of life could likely be shaking hands.

In the event of the untimely demise of the handshake, where does that leave us? Can the fist bump convey all that’s communicated by grasping someone’s hand? Or will some yet to be discovered act rise to take its place? We can’t say for certain what the prognosis will be, but we’re certain that the world as we knew it will never quite be the same again.

You may want to go ahead and say your final words. He may not be with us much longer.

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