Monday, February 20, 2017

Manners Monday - Dissecting the Trump Pump & How to Properly Shake Hands

Some experts say it’s the hands - not the eyes - that are the window into one's soul.  They believe that the hands provide the greatest insight into a person’s true character.  Trump’s hands have been in the spotlight since last spring when Governor Rubio questioned their size and claimed they appeared rather small for a man of his stature. Over the course of the election, President-elect Trump’s hands were analyzed, scrutinized and mocked by commentators as well as comedians.  From the entertaining way he used his hands to emphasize a point to his noticeable apprehension with handshakes in general, it is evident that the art of handshaking was not one of his strong suits.  In his book, The Art of the Comeback, he declared shaking hands as ‘barbaric’ and ‘one of the curses of American society’ further stating that, ‘the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get.”  While certain parts of the world suffering from the spread of disease would find handshaking unwise and unhealthy, here in America, shaking hands is simply a sign of respect.  Here’s a breakdown of President Trump’s pump - the good, the bad, and the ugly – along with a primer on how to properly shake hands with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The President’s Pump (& Pull)

We’ve noticed two types of handshakes that fall into the category of bad and ugly. When President Trump hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the White House recently, the media had a field day with the awkward looking nineteen-second long seated greeting. The grip looked more like a grab and gave the appearance that the President was pulling the Prime Minister’s hand into submission. A similar grip was used with Vice-President Pence as well as several other of the President’s appointees. Once again, these handshakes resembled more of an aggressive pump and pull rather than two seamless, smooth pumps.

Handshaking 101

The most universal gesture for greeting another person anywhere in the world is the handshake. It is often the first contact we have with someone new. To shake hands properly, extend the right hand and place your palm sideways. Extend the fingers away from you with the thumb facing up.  Locate the web area (the space between the index finger and the thumb) and meet the recipients hand web-to-web.  Shake with two smooth pumps and then release. The whole arm does not need to move, only the forearm from the elbow down. Your grip should be firm, not too strong, and not dangling like a limp fish.

Bad Shake Syndrome
  • The Wet Fish – This handshake grips only the tips of the fingers and feels distant and aloof as if the person isn’t truly interested in making your acquaintance.
  • The Bone Cruncher - This handshake hurts as if the person is intentionally trying to create pain. It leaves a negative impression that the person has something to prove or that they are trying to wield their power over you.
  • The Thumb Pincher - This handshake digs into a sensitive pressure point by pressing down too firmly with their thumb. The person offering this type of handshake is perceived as nervous or slightly uncomfortable.
  • The Never Ending Shake - This handshake lasts forever creating a guessing game as to when someone will let go. The person who offers this handshake appears overly enthusiastic and a way too eager.

Just the Facts
  • Ladies First - In social settings, a lady should always initiate the handshake because a man should never presume a lady wishes to make physical contact of any kind.
  • Stop Signals - If you happen to encounter an endless handshake, simply release the tension of your grip. This will send a non-verbal signal that the handshake has officially ended.
  • The Upper Hand - The person who extends their hand first is perceived to be the most confident and have control of the situation.
  • Stand & Deliver - Unless physically unable, a person always stands for a handshake. It is a sign of deference.
  • Sweaty Palms Alert - Suffering from sweaty palms may ruin a perfectly good handshake. An easy remedy is to carry a cloth that can absorb sweat in your pocket or purse. Gently touch the cloth before shaking somebody’s hands. At events where one is expected to shake a lot of hands, try rubbing some unscented antiperspirant on your palms prior to the engagement.

The Business Arena. A strong emphasis is placed on a firm handshake because it speaks loudly about credibility, confidence, and professionalism. Make sure every meeting begins and ends with a handshake. In a professional setting, it doesn’t matter who offers a hand first, however, the person who extends a hand first typically has an advantage because it shows initiative and is perceived as being in control.

A Personal Affront. Neglecting another person's hand is regarded as one of the most impolite offenses. Unless you have the Swine flu, Whooping Cough or some other contagious infection or disease, always accept an offer to shake hands. If you are particularly worried about germs, run to the restroom to disinfect or douce yourself with Purell.

For Your Eyes Only. A handshake means nothing without making good eye contact. It is second sign of respect. When shaking hands, give the person your undivided attention by looking them straight in the eyes as if they are the only person in the room.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Galentine's Day Etiquette - Six Ways to Celebrate Your Gal Pals Properly

I’ve clearly been living under a rock. I was a big fan of Parks & Recreation from the beginning, but somehow missed the landmark episode in which Leslie Knope - aka Amy Poehler - officially christened the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th as Galentine's Day. 

A day dedicated solely to our BFF's. What a genius concept!  Our girlfriends are our greatest treasure and they deserve to be honored and cherished. These are the peeps who support us through thick and thin, inspire us to be our best no matter what, and hold us up when the chips are down.  They'll judiciously tell us our thighs look a bit large in our skinny jeans or hold our hair back when we're praying to the porcelain G-d and even give the stink eye to our exes if we ask them.  

Whether you have a hot date lined up for the 14th or are celebrating your singlehood, girl code dictates chicks come before (you know what) any day of the week. Ladies always come first! So here’s how to celebrate your gal pals properly on Galentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day or, dammit, any other day of the year!

1. Take a Hike. Rather than the usual, ‘let’s have lunch’. Organize a feel good hike in the great outdoors.  Nothing says nurture, like good old mother nature. You don’t have to kill yourself climbing rocks and walking through steep terrain, just stretching your limbs with a good walk or moderate incline will put everyone in better spirits.

2. Lavish with a Galentine’s Day Gift. Select something your pals wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. No one reads anymore! Use this as an excuse to purchase an inspirational book or naughty read.  Anything that enlightens, moves us out of our ‘stuckness’ or evokes a good laugh will do.  Don’t forget to inscribe the book with a personalized note for each friend.

3. Host a House Party.  Ladies love to dance. Go to any party and notice how many girls are dancing without abandon while the guys stand dumbfounded ogling and wishing they could be so free. In the immortal words of country star Sam Hunt, “Turn your TV off and break that boom-box out.”  Dim the lights, take out the tequila, put on your favorite tunes and let loose for as long as you so choose.

4. Retreat to a Spa. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gal who doesn’t enjoy a little pampering.  Organize a mobile unit to come to the privacy of your own home, book an early evening gathering at your favorite day spa or, if you’re feeling really extravagant, hop a plane to the most luxurious offering on this continent or other. If you don’t want to break the bank, grab a few avocados for a facial mask, some cucumbers for puffy eyes, and a jar of coconut oil to add life to lackluster hair. Exfoliate, rejuvenate and come back feeling stronger than ever.

5. Make an Awesome Meal. As the saying goes, the gals who cook together, stay together. Well, perhaps that wasn’t exactly it, but you know what I mean. Research the perfect 3-course menu and invite the gals over to help you cook. Let them supply their favorite alcoholic beverages and start slicing, dicing, chopping and baking until you have a healthy, completely satisfying, gourmet-tasting meal that will leave you all feeling satiated, but not super full. 

6. Let Your Voice Ring Out.  Every lady wants to be heard. Make like you’re Queen B (Beyoncé), Adele or Lady Gaga at the Grammys and head out to the nearest karaoke bar. Let down your hair along with your inhibitions, grab that mike like you own it, and sing it loud and proud.  Get your girlfriends to video your superstar performance and play it back to remind yourself of the bad-ass gal you are or aspire to be.

Dedicated to my dearest girlfriends who are all unbelievably amazing, independent, strong, creative, warm, loving, and beautiful both inside and out. Here's to you!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

At Super Bowl Fifty-One: Forget the Game, All Eyes are On Gaga

Preparing for Super Bowl takes the competition to a whole other level.  Over 110 million people are parked in front of their big screens to watch the spectacle worldwide. Commercials cost as much as $5M for as little as 30 seconds of air time. It is the second-largest day for food consumption only to Thanksgiving.  Americans slug over 325 million gallons of beer and don’t even get me started on the amount of guacamole and chicken wings that are downed for the big day. 

This year Bill Belichick has brought his New England Patriots back to Super Bowl LI for the 9th time a potential 5th win to play the Atlanta Falcons who haven't been invited back since they lost to the Denver Broncos in 1999.  An estimated $4.7 billion will be bet on today’s game.

While throngs of fans are lined up to watch football, I am gearing up for Gaga.  I'll be on the edge of my seat come Half-Time waiting with anticipation over what color hair she'll don, how many revealing outfits she'll wear, will she appear as her alter ego Joanne complete with a cowboy hat or as Gaga circa 2009 when her career first took off?  And, most importantly, whether she'll use the stage to chastise our 45th President creating, even more, divisiveness or will she take the high road and use this incredible platform as an opportunity to bring Americans together.  The jury is out, but we are the judge.  So today as you get ready to cheer on your favorite team while consuming massive amounts of food and guzzling unimaginable quantities of beverages, remember to stay mindful of those around you.  The NFL players aren’t the only ones being held under a microscope, don’t be mistaken, your nearest and dearest are holding a close lens on you too.  Before stepping foot out the door, here's how to best mind your manners this Super Bowl Sunday.

Arrive on Time and Bearing Gifts.  Official start time isn’t until 3:30pm Pacific, but many parties will begin well beforehand.  Whatever you do, plan your arrival before kickoff so hosts will not feel compelled to welcome you and interrupt their viewing. Do not show up empty-handed. BYOB (the good stuff please!) or break out your stellar 7-layer dip recipe and you’ll be the life of the party.

Keep it Friendly.  Sunday is a family day so children are typically in tow.  Keep the atmosphere friendly and comfortable for everyone.  Reserve the foul language for the street when you’re walking to your car at the end of the game and monitor your alcohol intake so you don’t embarrass yourself and regret your behavior the next day.  

Acknowledge the National Anthem.  The moment you hear the music play and hear Luke Bryan hit his first note, it’s time to stand up straight, remove all head coverings, and place your hand firmly on your heart.  We stop and do this simply as a sign of respect.  All conversation should cease, but singing is encouraged right along with Ms. Gaga until the very last word is sung. 

Pay Deference to the Screen. Super Bowl fans want sufficient screen time, but there are always those who are more interested in making conversation than watching the game.  If there are multiple screens, station yourself in the room where you'll cause the least disruption. If you can’t find a seat or feel compelled to stand and shout for your team, just make sure that those behind can still see the game. And for goodness' sake, no giant hats or wild accessories that will prohibit the view.

Stay on Topic. On Super Bowl Sunday, the dialogue should be on the game. Know your facts beforehand so you are well-versed in the teams that are playing and the host city.  Learn the vernacular, know the difference between a touchdown and a field goal.  You want to be able to bond and converse with everyone.  This is not the time to bring up a serious conversation, mention a grave illness or ask for a job.  Super Bowl Sunday is supposed to be fun. Keep the tone light and breezy and pay attention to the ball.  Here’s a complete glossary to everything you could possibly want to know for game day terminology.

Avoid Being the Know-It-All.  You may be the type of person who thrives on knowing every minute detail about the two football teams, the players and the Tom Brady controversy. And you may enjoy spending hours researching the commercials that will be shown during the game, but that information is best kept to yourself. Today is not the day to sit on your soapbox espousing your knowledge. A know-it-all is a big turn off. 

Display Good Sportsmanship.  Wearing your team's jersey’s and caps, painting your body to show your support, showing the love by cheering them on is all perfectly fine.  What will not fly on Super Bowl Sunday is shouting expletives at the television screen when your team misses the field goal or picking a fight with your neighbor because he did a victory dance for a touchdown for your opposing team. Remember you are not playing in the game, you are just a fan.  Don’t make it personal.

Don’t Bet the Farm.  There are more Super Bowl pools than I care to imagine.  Know your limits.  If you’re an out of control gambler, designate the set amount for your bet before you leave the house so that you cannot be coerced into contributing more than you can afford.  There are plenty of pools to choose from and not all require a $500 ante.  You certainly don’t want to dip into your child’s college fund for a silly square on the football grid.

Absolutely No Double-Dipping.  As George made infinitely famous on Seinfeld, if you take a chip, you get only one dip and then end it! Rather than risk a lecture from the double-dip police, place a handful of chips on a napkin or small plate then use one large chip to scoop extra dip that you can then enjoy with the remaining chips.

Avoid Cutsies at Buffet Line.  Inevitably, there will be one coveted line with the short rib pizza or the crispy rice sushi that everyone is going to flock to. Whatever you do, please wait patiently for your turn. If you see friends further up, resist the urge to move even if they are waving you in with permission. It’s not their call and the others behind you will be most appreciative.

Leave No Trace Behind.  Be a good guest and clean up after your mess.  All those beef rib bones, leftover cold nachos, and ketchup-soaked napkins aren’t going to deposit themselves. Before making your way to partake in more witty repartee, do a complete 360 and leave no trace of trash behind. 

Compliment the Chef.  Super Bowl Sunday is the second most popular eating day after Thanksgiving and food plays a major part in the enjoyment.  Hosts spend weeks preparing the special menu of finger foods typically based around the two playing teams hometown favorites. A compliment to the chef lets them know they satisfied your every need.

You Gotta Give Thanks. Of course, it goes without mentioning to make sure you thank the host before you leave and follow up with a nice handwritten thank you note the following day.  Your graciousness will not go unnoticed.

On a final note today, please watch out for taboo topics.  We are still fresh off the swearing in which took place a mere two weeks ago and many are stick licking their wounds on both sides of the aisle.  While everyone has a right to their opinion, it doesn't give us license to shove that opinion down another person's throat. If you don't have something nice to say, keep it to yourself. Stay away from conversations that condemn Trump, hail Bernie Sanders, or defend DeflategateNow go and enjoy the game!!