People & Human Resources

Do I tell my staff about his dead fish handshake?

James Thomson /

Dear Aunty B,

One of my new sales staff has a very limp handshake. In fact, he proffers his hand out in a very effeminate way and then basically lets it hang loosely in yours like a dead fish.

Whenever he visits head office I have tried several times to grab his hand, giving it a squeeze and pumping it vigorously in order to send a subtle signal, but to no avail. Should I say something or get his boss to talk to him? His boss says he has shaken his hand many times and he has a “normal to softish handshake” but certainly not the dead fish one of my experience.

Gillian,
SA

 

Dear Gillian,

Yuck. The dead fish handshake. Nothing worse. But I am not at all sure what he thinks of your subtle signs: probably that you are mad. Men, when their hands are being pumped vigorously by a woman, are unlikely to start reflecting on their own imperfections.

I am afraid what you have here is a man – and there are many of them – who does not know how to shake a woman’s hand. There could be many reasons for this that are too boring to list.

But I will for the edification of women who are sick of the dead limp handshake. Some men believe that touching a woman in the workplace could be misinterpreted and they should keep hands in pockets. Other men are shy. And then you have the sexist pig who believes that women’s hands should be arranging flowers or setting the table not closing deals.

There is only one thing to do. Next time he produces the dead fish call him on it. Pull your hand back and tell him he can do better than that.

Turn it into a bit of a joke and then practice handshakes with him. The last thing you want is our salesperson dead-fishing women when trying to sell to them.

Good luck!

Your Aunty B

 

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