Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Selling Hand Brand - High fives, Fist Bumps in Sports and Leadership #Glasgow2014

 Notice the 'grasp of finger tips' style of handshake
Cook Islands Bowlers celebrating their victory in lawn bowls
Front page photograph of Times 26/7/14
In Glasgow they are currently holding the 2014 Commonwealth Games often called the 'Friendly Games'.

It's a chance to see great sport and observe non verbal communication traditions and cultures from around the world.

How handshakes are employed is an area of interest for those in selling.

Take a look at the handshakes of the bowlers from the Cook Islands. ( see right)

Another sport on show is boxing. Apart from the courage ,skill and athleticism that such a sport requires, the boxing match begins  when the pugilists  come to the middle of the ring and bump fists as a greeting before the bout starts.

Apparently this gesture goes back to the 19th Century. I guess if you are wearing boxing gloves, it is awkward to shake hands.  Fist bumps seemed a more practical alternative. 

Similarly in cricket today the batsman  often celebrate a good stroke or innings by a glove bump.

Handshakes are used to demonstrate politicians are 'in touch' with their electorate. 

London Times Saturday 26th July 2014 p.15
On a visit to a barbecue restaurant  in Austin Texas recently the President of the USA Barack Obama joked with an employee and then touched fists , which got his supporters raving again about how this was a different sort of president, unburdened by the formality of his predecessors.

The President of the European Commission , Jean-Claude Juncker attempted a high five when he met UK Prime Minister Cameron recently

Some consider the fist bump as a mark of equality as opposed to a handshake that they regard in some ways a kind of trial of strength.

Body language specialist Harry Witchel says “ In California in the 1970s, it was youth-culturish. It expresses connection and informality. You might bump fists first to express warmth, breaking that barrier of  contact without getting too close. A hug would be warm, but maybe not appropriate.”

The University of Chicago’s David McNeil says the fist bump gesture came from African-American street culture.

“It could be a modification of the open hand slap. There has always been an informal gesture culture. Professor Neil considers such gestures as more about ‘pop culture’ arbitrariness. 

“They are brands rather than authentic gestures. I don’t think they have lasting power, unlike the notorious middle finger , which has been used as an insult since the Romans.”
As Leaders we need to develop the 'common touch' in order to sell their message whether in selling or in politics. We meet people from many different walks of life and cultures. But the risk of damaging your image has also to be taken into account. Such informality as a fist bump could be construed as a lack of decorum and dignity. 

As we enjoy the festival of sport and culture of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games keep a look out for the different handshakes and body language. It's fascinating.

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