Our hands were locked in a firm grip that even a group of caffeine-crazed middle schoolers couldn’t break in an intense game of Red Rover. He looked me dead in the eyes as if he was waiting for me to crack and spill a classified, top secret. Sweat was forming at the brim of my forehead as others gazed on in dead silence, like they were witnessing a heavyweight boxing championship. I might have been the challenger, but there was no way I was backing down. This wasn’t an ordinary handshake, this was the first time I met my girlfriend’s father.
It’s weird to think that the first impression people have of you is when you shake their hands. Growing up, I was taught to give a strong handshake and always look the person in the eyes. It not only showed respect but conveyed a sign of confidence to others. But greeting people has changed so much that it’s hard to tell what is the right way to approach someone.
While a handshake was the only proper form of personally introducing yourself, greetings have now evolved into an art form that can turn out to be awkward and uncomfortable. If I see someone I know, I usually don’t give them a firm grip and death stare. They would probably think I am crazy. Instead, I’ll most likely give them a bro fist-pound or combination of bro-hug/pat with a quick hand-shake. It’s unnerving to think that people I rarely see feel comfortable enough with me to get that close for hug or pat. What’s even more bizarre is that for a few job interview, the a couple managers went in for a fist-pump instead of a firm handshake. You’re supposed to be my boss, not my friend that I go out and hang with.
What’s even more uncomfortable is greeting someone of the other sex. I’m sure many people have went in to fist-pump one of their guy friends, but encounter that awkward moment when the other person goes in for a handshake at the same time. Imagine you run into a girl you haven’t seen in some time. You go in for a high five or other quick greeting, and she is offended because you didn’t give her a hug right away. It’s not like you two meet up every Sunday for drinks and talk. I just feel more comfortable having close contact such as a hug with people I have real, actual relationships with; not someone I had Algebra with in the tenth grade.
All of this leads me back to tug of war I was having with my girlfriend’s father. I knew I had to give him the strongest handshake I could to have the best, first impression. No one was backing down and I could tell that he was surprised a young guy like me didn’t go in with a weak grip and let go after a second. Too make matters worse, he even started maneuvering his hand to grind my knuckles. He could play dirty, but I was going to win this battle fair and square.
Finally, he let go on his grip and it was all over. I’m pretty sure everyone there even let out a sigh of relief. I put on a smile, but held my hand in pain once he turned his back. This may seem strange to some people, but I knew I had to make a good, first impression. I am going to be dating his daughter, the love of his life. If I gave a weak shake, how is that going to show him that I am strong enough to take care of his baby girl. Well, I think I earned his respect from that day on and we have had no issues with trust. I recommend everyone gives a nice, firm handshake when they meet new people. It could be anything form a job interview to meeting a new guy-friend at a bar. You’ll see that a strong shake of the hands will be a great start to a first impression.