"Only truthful hands write true poems. I cannot see any basic difference between a handshake and a poem."
--- Paul Celan
The handshake has a unique, but not too clear history. Some say it is based on culture and the reason for the handshake can vary. Other sources say the handshake originated in about the 5th century BC when opponents would shake hands to show that they were not carrying a dagger or other weapon. Most ancient history points that handshakes were a sign of affection.
In modern times, the handshake is used as a greeting and a welcoming gesture. It is also used to seal the deal in business. It has a history of meaning the same thing as a promise or vow. It is, or used to be, a trusted sign of sincerity and honesty. It is still used in business today, but along with a signed contract and a closed sale.
"I have always been an honest trader. I come from a school of traders where there was honor in the deal. No contracts, just a handshake and that's it, done. That's the way I prefer to do business but it's not always possible these days, sadly."
--- Alan Sugar
Shaking hands is simply a symbol of something else. Fortunately, in many cultures that "something else" is either a greeting, a promise, or a signal of affection. But for business purposes, a handshake, either from man to man or woman to man, is seen as both a greeting, as well as agreement. It represents acknowledgement and concurrence of a transaction and has strong meaning to many business leaders of old.
"I try to live with honor, even if it costs me millions of dollars and takes a long time. It's very unusual in Hollywood. Few people are trustworthy - a handshake means nothing to them. They feel they're required to keep an agreement with you only if you're successful or they need you."
--- James Cameron
However, it is always good to know your audience. If a client isn't made from the same cloth as you and doesn't appreciate the value of a handshake, then by all means sign a contract. Plus, in other cultures, the handshake can be seen as offensive and too personal. In Tibet, people stick out their tongue as a way of welcoming others. I highly recommend that you don't do that if your company does business mainly in the US.
"I have no contracts with my clients; just a handshake is enough."
--- Irving Paul Lazar
But the handshake is really more than an historical act with many uses. Since it signifies the power of a man or woman's word, it has significant value to it. Remove the handshake and we get down to the nitty gritty of its value - a person's word. Your word and my word has power. Though today's society attempts to dilute its force, our word is, and should remain our bond. If what we say loses its power, it will become like a stale donut with no substance or taste. It will go the way of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
"But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one."
--- Matthew 5:37
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In a Los Angeles dance hall:
"Good clean dancing every night but Sunday"
A sign in an Asian seafood store in Madison, Wisconsin:
Seen at the Newark Animal Hospital in Newark, DE, which happens to be surrounded by car dealerships:
"CAR DEALERS USING THIS LOT FOR TURN-AROUND WILL BE NEUTERED. Appointments now being taken "
We need those funny signs you've seen in your travels, come on, we know they're out there.
Send them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.