Handshakes and Business Communications
Pictures of handshakes are ubiquitous. They are one of the
most common of business concept stock photos. And most of those photographs are,
to put it gently, not exactly scintillating. But images of handshaking
fills an important need in the business communications world.
Photos of handshakes, the all too familiar clasping of
hands in a display of unity, agreement and friendship are still an effective way
of portraying important business concepts.
Teamwork, Sealing the Deal and Success
The concepts illustrated by handshake pics are many and
include such vital ones as teamwork, sealing the deal, the way forward and
success. Trust, confidence, and support are also key concepts that can be shown
by the joining of two hands in that familiar and now world-wide greeting. Interestingly enough, what we think of as the traditional
modern handshake can be traced back to the ancient Greeks.
Concealing Weapons, to Avoiding a Kiss, to the Power of the
There are actually many and conflicting reports on the
origin of the handshake, from the belief that it originated to show that one was
not holding or concealing a weapon, to the agreement (among two males in Arabia)
that they were not going to kiss each others hands, to Egyptian lore that the
handshake transferred power form the God to the King. In that case the Ruler
would shake hands with a statue of the God to accomplish the power transfer.
The Beginning, the End, and Equality
Handshakes actually can have a wide variety of functions.
In negotiations, a beginning handshake serves to indicate agreement on a “level
playing field”. A handshake can also indicate the beginning of negotiations or
discussions as well as the end or conclusion of a negotiation or discussion
session. This holds true whether it is an interview, a business negotiation or a
planning meeting. The handshake also shows trust, balance and equality.
Handshakes and Lasting Impressions
Like it or not, consciously or unconsciously, people place
a lot of importance on handshakes. A person is judged by the firmness of their
grip, the length of their clasp, and even the number of shakes that are included
in the handshake. Variations can include whether a second hand is added by
either of the parties involved. Other factors include the temperature of ones
hand, and whether one’s hand is perceived as “clammy”, wet or dry.
The success or shall we say “assessment” of the handshake
can include posture and eye contact as well. Like it or not, your first
handshake can form an impression that can stay with you for a lifetime.
Secret Handshakes and Variations
There is also the entire realm of “secret” handshakes as
practiced by secret societies, fraternities, gangs and so forth. In some gang
situations using the wrong handshake can possibly result in bodily injury! In
many cultures refusal or even hesitation to accept a handshake is considered
If one’s right hand is injured it is generally accepted to
offer one’s left hand instead, but in many cultures the left hand, the
“bathroom” hand, is considered unclean and should never be offered. In
contemporary culture there have been many offshoots of the traditional handshake
ranging from high fives and low fives to elbow bumps and elaborate series
touches, grips, slides and bumps.
Such variations are particularly rampant in sports where
handshakes can be acknowledgments of accomplishment and success as well as good
sportsmanship in post competition execution.
Photographing the Handshake
The handshake is something that we don’t think about a
great deal, and yet it permeates our culture and non-verbal language. It is
also, as we have seen, a vital part of our visual communications. As stock
photographers it is important for us to strive to create handshake images that fill the
needs of business, and the handshake pictures that serve many of those needs. Our challenge
is to take the handshake photo and portray it in new, fresh and dynamic ways.