March 13, 2019
There is no substitue for personal connection.
Communication in our world today is a little strange. The way we connect with one another today, or lack thereof across social media, the desktop, or text is near completely removed from personal human interaction. We've become so reliant on these great tools and platforms that we often resort to an email or text verses a phone call, let alone a face to face. Why? Has life become so fast paced and transactional for us that we've inadvertently lost the most important part in communicating - to actually value the other individual in connection?
A little backstory.
I had wonderful role-models growing up. It's absolutely one of the greatest blessings of my life, and the best of those role models was without a doubt my father. I had a great dad, I still do! It's the way he treats people that deeply impacted me as I watched him over the years. He always aims to treat people with honesty and respect. I can't remember any situation where those two postures weren't demonstrated in front of me. That doesn't mean he's perfect. That doesn't mean he never missed an opportunity or two along the way to be 100% consistent in that, but honesty and respect were always so apparent in how I grew up because of one specific action I saw over and over again: his handshake.
I need to elaborate a bit here. The handshake isn't dead in my opinion, it's just lost . Everyone has shaken somebody's hand. It's not difficult to figure out early on in life that the handshake is a sign of respect, peace, and a symbol of a warm greeting and departure. We've all been there though with, "that person" who just doesn't quite know what they're doing.
The weak feeble grip.
The vice-grip that's way too firm and leaves you hurting.
The awkward hand placement.
Or maybe you've gotten the infamous head down zero eye contact hand shake. What is with that? Are they scared to connect? Would they rather run away? Do I have something on my face that is just too horrible to look toward?
To me, the way my dad shakes someones hand is a lost art form. It's old school, direct, trust building, firm but not too firm. A simple open arrival in the meeting of hands and an appropriate grasp. It's how he seals his word with someone and joins that grip with warm eye contact. My grandfather was the same way and now I'm the same way. A great handshake instills value toward a person above all other things. It doesn't matter what the meeting is about. If it's a new acquaintance, the leader of a major corporation, a random hello even someone you'll never see again, or you're meeting the parents of that significant other for the first time, your handshake sets the table of not only that interaction but is a vital building block of that relationship.
I'm 33 years old now, I've lived a bit of life, and I've worked quite a few jobs over the years. I'm now currently a co-founder of my own business and the culture I envision here at Foreword begins and ends with valuing people above all other things. Yes, I have services to offer that help others reach their goals, that's the nature of business. But I never want that to feel impersonal. Goals are almost rooted in some aspect of a persons dreams. Does every business owner have dreams? At one point I believe they did. It's easy to forget why we started our business. I've come across owners every year in that very position.
I want to help them dream again. There is joy to be found in all work. I believe that joy is rooted in valuing people through our work. When I shake someones hand and say "hello, it's nice to meet you," I absolutely mean just that and so much more. I want every person to feel seen and that their ideas matter. They matter and people deserve to know more about them because of just that. A handshake not only makes others feel great, it'll make you feel better too. It's meaningful and life giving to your soul.
If human connection is lost, a hand shake connects us in way that a text or email never will. It reminds me that I'm a person and you're a person. It reminds me to put you first and not just the work. I've seen a handshake mend broken business deals and I've seen a handshake celebrate the excitement of a job well done. Most of all, I've seen my handshake make all the difference in building lasting, productive, and impactful relationships that are more than just business. They've become lifelong friendships.
So get up off your butt, call some people, meet them in person, and shake some hands. Our world will be better because of it.