How firm is your handshake?

My grandfather always told me “never trust a man with a floppy handshake.”  This was said by a 6’5, 250 pound first generation German farmer. I took everything he said as golden truth, if grandpa said it, it was true.  I think he earned some respect in the community with his way of looking at life, evidenced by over 1, 000 people attending his wake.  He had other isms, but the handshake” grandpaism” sticks to me as I shake hands on a daily basis.

First let me explain what constitutes a good handshake.

1. Firm grip – ladies you can grip a hand firmly as well, it does not make you less feminine.

2. Eye contact – this may be hard for the shy or those from other cultures who are not used to eye contact.

3. Head nod – acknowledging the connection with a genuine smile. 

All of you reading this are professionals in some capacity (yes students, you are professionals), making genuine connections is vital to our success.  Next time you meet a profess, a classmate,  a  patient’s family, think of what you are putting into that hand to hand connection.  Are you putting forth your best self in that touch of hands?  Are you looking into the eyes to meet them at a human level?  Are you nodding, acknowledging that yes we are all human, connected in this globe, our hands touch, our eyes meet, and then we acknowledge the connection.

Your firm handshake, eye contact, head nod and smile will remain a memory for those new connections.  Make yours count!

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  1. Couldn’t agree more!

  2. A good handshake is truly important, be you 50, 125, or 250 lbs!

  3. I hope I still have a strong handshake when I’m 125 years old.

  4. Happy 125h OHSU

About the Author

Hello All, Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts! I grew up in Minnesota, moved west to Montana for my undergad at Carroll College in Helena Montana. There I earned my degrees in Spanish and Nursing. After college I moved to Guatemala and volunteered as a nurse at a rural hospital. I have continued to serve in Latin America and the Carribean. Growing up in the Midwest chasing chickens and cows, traveling the world, and my volunteering abroad have shaped me in ways unmeasureable within the context of formal education. I currently am a Doernbecher pediatric float pool RN, Spanish translator, and graduate student in the Master's in Community Health and Nursing Education program here at OHSU. I'm passionate about global health issues and helping students learn in authentic environments. When I'm not working or studying I love skiing big powder lines, biking, and hula hooping around the world.



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