The last Thursday in June is National Handshake Day and this year the time has come to finally recognize that there is no right or wrong way to perform the iconic gesture of greeting or agreement.
Few other bits of de riguer etiquette have been the subject of more advice, analysis and even classes. We're told that we need to master "the art of the handshake" if we want to nail an interview or seal a deal.
It's pretty obvious that we place far too much significance on the simple action, but that doesn't stop the cascade of advice.
Before you old-schoolers protest too much, I understand all the typical platitudes about making a solid first impression, projecting confidence and competence, etc. It makes a certain amount of sense on a symbolic level, but let's just stop pretending that the handshake itself actually matters, please. Some of the most successful people I know, who shall remain nameless, are notorious for their clammy, dead fish limp handshakes. Clearly it hasn't held them back.
A few years back some academics led by Geoffrey Beattie tried to come up with a formula for the perfect handshake backed by scientific research. A firm grip and around three solid shakes with eye contact was the basic recipe.
But increasingly it seems there is a certain disdain for this advice, along with many other formalities from previous eras.
Perhaps you've noticed, like I have, that this is a phenomenon on the rise with many millennials. I'm either a very old millennial or a very young Gen Xer depending on where you place the generational cut-off point, and I've certainly seen a steep rise among younger colleagues in throw-away handshakes that do not take the standard advice into account at all.
And you know what? That's totally fine.
I've never evaluated a person based on their handshake. Why? Well, because that would be an absurd thing to do. Does the limp, clammy handshake make a great first impression? No, not really. But as a reasonable person who has learned that my first impressions of people are sometimes startlingly off base and frequently tied to projections of my own insecurities rather than a tool for evaluating another human, I actively work to suppress those snap judgments.
Handshakes are fine, but the emphasis placed on them is shrinking alongside the recognition of the importance of actual assets like emotional intelligence.
And, of course, there is the case of Donald Trump.
The President's handshakes basically follow Beattie's formula, but in a more aggressive fashion that have become the stuff of meme magic.
Trump's handshake even makes Beattie reconsider the future of the gesture of peace he once sought to perfect through science.
"Donald Trump is now in the process of redefining the handshake, transforming it into the opening salvo in a battle for supremacy," Beattie wrote in February.
So, clearly, the handshake is at a crossroads with the emergence of two divergent schools of shaking. There is the millennial style: casual and free from pretense, as well as Trump's aggressive style of asserting dominance through extended grip and yank sessions.
So which school will inform the next batch of listicles on perfecting your grasp?
As you've probably figured out already, I'm in agreement with my younger colleagues, although some of you from the old school might not consider that agreement official since I never officially sealed it with a handshake.