The Demise of the Handshake

I grew up in a time that was the transition of this currency from gold to coal. I have watched my grandpa, my dad and thousands of other people out there reach an agreement on something and end that with a handshake. It’s a way to signify, “you can trust me”.  And when you get down to it those words are what everything else is built on from there moving forward. If you don’t have trust there is no relationship. Period.


So what happened to the handshake?  A lot of people still do it. Some still value it. And that’s the sad part. The reason I bring this up is that recently with one of our businesses we have had people go back on deals that were hammered out and hands were shaken prior to the formality of documents being signed off on . When those people bail on the deal there are significant ramifications to multiple people involved in negative ways. From loss of revenue to schedule changes that tip people’s lives upside down, the simple act of not honoring an agreement has big effects on everybody involved.  One such situation that happened recently the person breaking the deal specifically said that since there was no written agreement and that it was a verbal thing that it didn’t matter. It does matter. We did shake hands. We did agree on something and set the wheels in motion. It happened. And when that handshake happened we entered into a contract. Though it not be written, in my book it was as good as that.


That’s where times have changed. Apparently, a handshake means nothing to most anymore. It’s just a simple gesture of touching someone’s hand and seeing who holds on the longest until someone feels awkward. That’s what the world is starting to call it at least. Not here. The handshake to me is as good as a pen and paper. It’s your word. It’s set in stone. Shit happens. Things come up. Life gets crazy. It will happen. But when it does do you still honor what you said you would do. No matter what that situation is in life do you honor your word…your handshake?  I hope so. Your kids are watching. Your peers are watching. I am watching. God is watching.


I’m asking for some help to bring the value of a handshake back again. When you “shake on it” with your two-year-old think about what you are saying and more importantly, what you mean. Now make it mean the same with every shake of the hand. You are sharing trust with people. Make it count. The lack of trust in this world is what has impacted so many situations in negative ways whether it be business, relationships, politics, false friendships and even marriages and families. Without trust you have nothing with people. Its just that simple.


Make your word count. Make your handshake count. Make the handshake great again. It’s a place to start to improve our word for our kids.

Dr. Brett

Brett McDonough