top of page

Relax and Play Time!

Gifts for you and your loved ones, wheeeeee!

The Handshake - for Win-Wins, Intimacy and World Peace

Remember the children's song, "head, shoulders, knees and toes"? No? That's ok.

This week we'll explore a new song: The Handshake Song

We can use The Handshake Song for lots of things! We can use it to deepen intimacy with others (not sex, intimacy, emotional intimacy). We can use it to help get win-win cooperation. We can use it to make a world that works better for everyone.

Here's how The Handshake Song goes:

The Handshake Song

Verse 1

Head, heart, gut, extend a handshake

Verse 2

Acknowledge, apologize, adjust.

Verse 3

Head, heart, gut, extend a handshake

Verse 4

Acknowledge, apologize, adjust.

Simple, right?

Got it? No? Ok, let's work through it.

In life, sometimes we don't listen to each other or help each other because of lots of reasons. Mostly, those reasons boil down to fear.

In the jungle, when animals are afraid, what do they do? They fight, freeze, or run away (flight).

Sometimes we are like animals in the jungle. When we feel nervous, we fight, or we freeze, or we try to get out of there!

But did you know there's another option?

In The Handshake Song, we have a new way to deal with our fear.

To start with, we can just be there, relax and breathe.

In a moment when someone is unhappy with you, just breathing and relaxing there takes practice. If you breathe, and relax, then you can help slow things down. You can help reduce tension. When we just stand there and breathe, we can acknowledge the other person's values, and even apologize (because hey, none of us are perfect, especially not at relationship dances). When we slow down, we can adjust.

Once we are relaxing and breathing, how do we use The Handshake Song?

Here's an example:

Imagine someone in a restaurant bumps you and steps on your toes. Of these three options, which one would you like better:

1. The toe-stepper shouts, "Hey, get out of the way!"

2. The toe-stepper says, "Oh sorry about that, I didn't mean to hurt you."

3. The toe-stepper says, "What, I didn't step on your toe."

For me, I prefer option #2. Even if the person didn't intend to step on my toes, it's kind and considerate of them to apologize, even though they didn't mean to step on me. The apology isn't about blame, it's about consideration. Saying sorry shows that he is considering my feelings too.

When someone confronts us with something, unconsciously they're trying to get an emotional handshake. In relationships practicing authentic connection and resolution, it helps to apologize, even (especially) if we didn't intend harm, because it expresses concern and consideration for the other.

In The Handshake Song, when we're confronted by someone, it's Verse 1.

Verse 2 (the response) goes like this: Acknowledge, Apologize, Adjust.

Now what if you're the person who needs to do the confronting? What if someone (deliberately or accidentally) stepped on your toes?

To avoid an argument, it might help to try The Handshake Song: Head, heart, gut, extend a handshake.

What does this mean?

Let's start with the "head" part of the verse. Notice in your head the things you are thinking and might want to say. Notice how these sound:

- Name-calling - "Jerk!!"

- Shoulding on them - "You shouldn't have done that!"

- Emotional Drive-by Shooting - "That Really HURT!!!"

- Cynic's Retort - "People are just mean nowadays."

Unfortunately, the head can say lots of things that don't resolve anything. Some people call this the "monkey mind". In fact, sometimes the things the monkey-mind/head wants to say things can actually make things worse.

So instead, in The Handshake Song, we translate the head through the heart and gut (your core values), and then make a request (this is the handshake part). Feel how that goes. Put your hand on your head, notice your thoughts, then move your hand down to your heart, then your belly, then extend your hand in a handshake gesture. Notice how the gesture looks in this example, the head translated first into the heart, and so on:

"That really hurt; I'd like care that I'm here, too. Could you please move over a little bit?"

Did you follow the way that was "heart, gut, handshake offer"?

Here's the trick though - not everyone will accept your handshake offer the first time around. They might get scared and try to fight, flee or freeze. Don't give up, just hang in there. No matter what they do, try to coming back to requesting that handshake:

"Ow, that hurt, please skootch left a bit?"

"What, I didn't do anything." (Not accepting the handshake.)

"Ok, no problem. But I'm a bit squashed here, could you please back up a little bit?"

Now you have made the request again - this is like extending the handshake a second time.

Now watch to see if the other person takes it.

"I was just standing here. You take up a lot of space too!" (Defending, Deflecting)

Since they still have not reached back to shake your hand (verse 2), it's time to try verse 1 again.

"While that may be true, we can talk about that after we finish this. Could you tell me what would stop you from moving a little bit to the side?"

In this case, a step toward a handshake is first the "acknowledgement" part of the verse. By saying, "if you won't shake my hand, could you tell me why not," it gives the other person a chance to talk about what is stopping them, so that you can shake hands to help them, which will help them shake hands to help you.

Using The Handshake Song, you just keep doing Verse 1 until you get Verse 2. Soon, you will get the handshake back:

"Sorry about that. I didn't mean it. There you go." (Acknowledge, Apologize, Adjust.)

The challenge with using The Handshake Song, is that most of us have a Nervous Dog aspect inside of us.

When we were young, we were yelled at, punished, and ridiculed. This turned a part of our heart into The Nervous Dog. The Nervous Dog is afraid of punishment, doesn't want to suffer the pain of ridicule or being put down, or blamed, or rejected. So to avoid ever being a target of blame, the Nervous Dog gets defensive, denies, explains itself, deflects onto you or changes the topic to the past or the future. Some Nervous Dogs even bite by throwing ridicule or throwing sour grapes. But behind all the jittery behavior, the Nervous Dog just wants to be seen for its innocence.

If we learn that the Nervous Dog is just acting out of fear, we can just stand there, breathe, and give another go at The Handshake Song.

Here's another example of The Handshake Song in action, I also like to call this an opportunity for a Paranoia check (balancing our projections):

Sam: You asked me out for a date in two weeks from today. Why not sooner?

Chris: I thought I should give you proper notice. (Projection)

Sam: Oh I see. I can hear the care in that. In the future, would you be willing to initiate with what you want and check with me about my needs?

Chris: Hm. Yeah, I can see where I was making up a story about you instead of just asking you. Sure. Thanks for the feedback.

(Note how Chris acknowledged Sam's bite, took it in, and adjusted.)

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all wrinkles could be ironed out this easily?

Since not all Handshakes go this smoothly, let's try another example of The Handshake Song. This one is about a broken agreement:

Chris - It's 6:20, I understood we were meeting at 6.

(Notice that Chris did the "head" part, but forgot to do the heart, gut or handshake by naming a value and making a request.)

Sam - Well there was traffic.

(See the Nervous Dog? Sam just explained, instead of acknowledging Chris's concern.)

Chris - I can understand that. Traffic happens. Meanwhile, I'd like care for my (heart, time, concerns) even when there's traffic. If you're going to be late, could you please text me before being late so that I know what's going on.

(Notice the value and request here! So now that we finished Verse 1, let's see if we get to Verse 2.)

Sam - Well you're late sometimes too.

(Ooops. Deflecting. Now it's up to Chris to notice tht the handshake failed. There's no acknowledgement, and certainly no heart connection.)

Chris: Thank you, I get you have an issue with me you'd like to iron out too. We can talk about that next. Meanwhile, I'd like resolution about the subject I started with. Can you (see, feel, get, understand) how it might be confusing for me to not see you at 6pm when we agreed to 6pm?

(Notice here, Chris changed from the first handshake, to a baby-step. If Sam didn't acknowledge, apologize and adjust, can Chris at least get an acknowledgement?)

Sam: (Takes a breath.) Yeah, I can see how you might feel that way.

(Notice this acknowledgement indicates a bit of heart-connection from Sam about Chris's core values. Now with that acknowledgement, Chris can try for the apology and adjustment.)

Chris: Thank you. Next time, if you're not likely to make the time we agreed on, could you please text me that, so that I'm in the loop?

Sam - (Feels grief and humility, but has the maturity to get that we are all human and need to learn how to dance with each other in ways that work for everyone.) Sure, no problem.

(Here, Chris might see Sam's shift, which closes the loop on apology, because Sam adjusted.)

Hopefully this will work out better for Sam and Chris moving forward.

But what if the topic is not so simple?

Just remember The Handshake Song:

Verse 1

Head, heart, gut, extend a handshake

Verse 2

Acknowledge, apologize, adjust.

Verse 3

Head, heart, gut, extend a handshake

Verse 4

Acknowledge, apologize, adjust.

Repeat this as many times as necessary, until both sides iron out any wrinkles that are left.

Just try to pair a value/request with a heart-felt handshake, and don't move forward u