Handshake Protocol

People shake hands differently in the United States.

In the business setting, it seems the same – opposite hands of the two participants, fingers down, thumb apart and up. Points to note:

  • Handshakes need to be firm, regardless of anything. Firm handshakes indicate determination (or that you read this post).
  • An NLP person would say at this point that the rotational orientation says something about the relationship between the two people involved. If your hand ends up on top, you’re the dominant person, and vice versa – so, the ideal handshake is one where both palms remain vertical, indicating an equitable relationship. I guess I’ve found that to be mostly true.

These are the commonalities. The differences occur in a social setting. Now – I haven’t been giving “high fives” when we complete a group assignment, or some such – but the normal social greeting handshake isn’t the handshake above. Strange but true!

Here’s the format. On approach, your opposite number will offer a raised hand, palm towards you. This is not a high five. Instead, offer your opposite hand in a similar posture, and clasp hands as if you were going to arm wrestle, but just for a moment.

Enjoy your greetings!

American Woman

Obviously, one of the topics of conversation here is dating Americans, and it appears that things are a little more complicated here than usual. Some of my new American friends have laid out the landscape for me, so I pass it on to you.

In the UK, it’s usual to ask someone out on a date only if you’re not seeing anyone. From that point, you date, figure out if it works or not, and either part ways or … well … get it on.

In the US, it’s not quite the same. It’s normal here to date many people at once. So that means that you can be out on a date with someone who could then date someone else the next night. In fact, there are even defined stages here. I wish I had a copy of Visio handy!

Meet someone -> date (multiple people) -> DTR -> relationship (one only) -> babies

While dating someone, if you think it’s going well, one needs to “Define The Relationship” or DTR. (This is apparently a common acronym.) Only after this stage would one expect a relationship to be exclusive.

One has to respect the efficiency of such a system, though it’s probably best to be warned beforehand.

More First Impressions

Odd: I don’t drive, so I’ve avoided any head on collisions – but I’m having to get used to actually walking on the right of a path against a flow of people coming the other way. I’ve noticed this in Europe too, so I should be used to it.

First Impressions

I have arrived.


The weather is fantastic. I certainly don’t miss UK weather, where one has the impression that people are being watered like plants. However, I understand that in a couple of weeks the weather will turn sharply for the worse, and I may be envying the UK their drizzle.

The work is hard, but not impossible. It’s not quite what I expected, which is pretty much what I expected. I’ve been learning a lot about strategy from the perspective of marketing and economists so far. To be honest, it been a treat to find out what strategists actually DO – that was an open question just a couple of weeks ago.

The biggest and most exciting thing here so far has been the United States itself. It’s so different to the UK – not better or worse, just different.

Wonderful: families. Children seem to be everywhere, and they seem to be everything to their parents. Everyone smiles when they see one in public.
Wonderful: connections. It’s clear that talking to strangers (especially in London) is simply incorrect. Here you can talk to anyone, and anyone will talk to you. I feel like I’m using a muscle I haven’t used for a long time.
Wonderful: colleagues. Regardless of the diversity of the students, they are common in their energy, sagacity, and eagerness to help.

However, there are some things I miss about the UK.

WTF: environment. I don’t have a car, but it seems difficult to function here without one. It’s not impossible – I can get away without one, but it teeters on the edge of impossible, which is just annoying. The city here is fairly spread out, and to buy anything you need to sit for hours on a bus. Specifically route 208. More specfically, there seems to be nowhere in Evanston to buy a toaster. I pine for an Argos or a Robert Dyas.
WTF: time. There is no time to do anything in this environment – there’s simply more to do than there are hours in the day.
WTF: nomenclature. People seem to keep calling crisps “chips”. This is incorrect.

There are also some oddities.

Odd: every street is lines with neat grass. Where does it all come from? Who cuts it? Who waters it in the dry season? Is the city employing an army of invisible gardeners?
Odd: wildlife. There are squirrels everywhere, and they are almost tame. I’m sure I could just grab one on the way into college. Also, I have seen a skunk. London has foxes, we have skunks.


Odd: baseball. I have now been to a baseball game at Wrigley Field. Nobody watched the game. (The photo is of a freakish moment when everyone was looking in the same direction by chance.) Everyone was just chatting amongst themselves. For the english readers, baseball is almost exactly like rounders, and you’ll be pleased to know that football is getting a lot more popular here.