I admit that, after having decided on the topic of this post, it seemed to me, somewhat shallow; writing about hands is a walk in the park. You probably already are aware of all those well-known facts about hand care, the importance of gesticulation and the different types of handshakes …
That was until I ran into the following quote: “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain” (Carl Gustav Jung). Then it dawned on me that, aside their practical function, hands are also instrumental to self-expression, that they have an enormous force of expression and that a handshake can send messages that might seem irrational in lack of direct physical contact.
Hands are the most mobile parts of the body: palms or fingers are rarely in complete rest, even if the remaining parts of the body are in a relaxed state, like when reading or watching television. Hands can do so many things … grab, write, caress, hit … Their mobility also confers them augmented expressivity. Moreover, few are those who refrain from moving their hands while making a speech or especially when engaged in conversation and it is well known that the gestural language can actually be more eloquent than words. Keep in mind that those able to decipher hand gesticulation have an auxiliary source of information relating to the personalities and characters of other individuals. Schools of rhetoric grant much importance to hand gesticulation, when speaking to an audience. Ample and rigid gestures are considered trenchant, threatening and imperious, while fingers that are depictive of an overly slow ballet, often italicise an inconsistent speech. These facts hold true not only for situations of public speaking, but also for the professional environment, not only when it comes to meetings but also in the context of everyday communication between employees or business partners.
The concern towards the appearance of our hands should qualify as an art, all the more so as the “lessons” to be learnt are few and simple.
1. A wet palm is repugnant. Having tissues at hand is a short-term solution to excessive perspiration as a medical condition and/or to perspiration as a physiological response to emotional states.
2. Fingernails say as much about us as do our teeth – if they are in bad condition, yellow or rotten will undoubtedly affect the first impression you make on others from the moment they lay eyes on you. Fingernails that haven’t been cleaned or are chewed to the flesh will surely be to your disadvantage. When it comes to excessive cosmetics, ladies should consider two rules: the shorter the nails, the more professional the individual and no nail polish is better than a chipped one. In business environments, artificial or decorated fingernails are out of the question, regardless of the artistry of the work. French manicure is accepted with the condition that the white line is not wider than 1or 2 mm. Otherwise, it may have an oddly unnatural aspect. As for the color of the nail polish, I have seen so many inappropriate colors, that I could write an entire article just on that! In a nutshell, it is advised not to use any flashy colors like: purple, violet, cyclamen, blue, etc. Same it goes for black nail polish, no matter how much you like it; I recommend it exclusively in a private context. I suggest nude colors or transparent nail polish. You definitely don’t want your fingernails to become the center of attention and hence the real qualities you have as a professional to be questioned or completely missed, do you?
As for gentlemen, I suggest you do without the transparent nail polish suggested by the overzealous manicurists. The natural polish of your short trimmed, fringeless filed nails should be enough.
3. When it comes to the appearance of your hands, I would like to emphasize the importance of a flawless skin, meaning that it should be constantly and richly hydrated, on a daily basis. A trimmed manicure will surely go unnoticed should the skin of your hands resemble Sahara’s topographical map. While our hands are the most mobile and “hard-working” parts of the body, they are also most exposed to nature’s elements. Gentlemen, you shouldn’t believe that hydrating the hands is a strictly feminine affair. You could, as well, keep some fragrance free lotion in your desk drawer, especially during the winter months. I advise you to use it freely, as a cracked and rough skin is just as unpleasant to touch as a wet one is.
I urge you to keep in mind what I have come to repeat as a mantra considering that it is one of the main rules for constructing the correct image: a successful individual not only has expertise in his or her professional field, but also exigency when it comes to personal details. If she/he will focus on these details, that same diligence and rigor will undoubtedly be manifested at a professional level as well. Only by respecting others and ourselves will we be able to earn and entail respect in return.
My advice: always display clean hands, literally and figuratively, with well cared for skin and fingernails and, most of all, ensure eye contact when addressing others and gesticulating!
Given that today I set out with a quote I would like to remain consistent, hence I will conclude in the same manner: “I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson