Alpha male

By Neil Smith

When I was a boy my Dad said to me ‘Son, a firm handshake is a sign of strong character’. I don’t really do the big powerful handshake thing – I just kind of adjust the pressure ’til it more or less matches that of the ‘shakee’. I think it’s only polite. These days when I shake my Dad’s hand (at funerals or New Year’s Day) I do tend to turn up the pressure to ‘strong character’ to keep the old man happy. I find the big handshake moment in business meetings a bit tiresome (it’s always the little fellas that are the worse) with the eye contact thing and the palm-down death grip. They think they’re letting me know who’s boss – but I think it’s probably just a trick they learned in the ‘assertiveness’ module of their ‘marketing for short people’ course. They don’t scare me – unlike the Dutch graphic design student whose vice-like grip brought tears to my eyes and resulted in an operation to pin my 5th metacarpal. It turned out that I’d broken my hand a few weeks earlier in an inter design group football match brawl, but hadn’t noticed. Brawling in a friendly football match – now that’s the sign of a strong character.

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