Thursday 5 February 2015

Look them in the eye and shake hands

Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays Bank, was widely quoted last week saying that not only do young people need to develop work skills they also need to develop social skills – social media is no substitute for personal interaction.  Employers want to see your work skills but they also want to know that you will integrate and collaborate with colleagues. 

He said “There is absolutely the danger that we will have a lost generation of youngsters if we do not help them develop the skills they will need for the new world of to shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye and hold your shoulders back.”

Number One Daughter and family live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and everyone shakes hands.  From your guests and their children, your host and their children, the plumber and electrician – anyone who comes through the door to your home and everyone in the home or office you visit. Everyone you encounter will shake your hand on arriving and leaving and the children shake hands with each other too. (That is unless you are friends in which case – three kisses – left, right, left.)

Body language is so important: I remember some years back working for a specialist employment agency where one of my roles was to recruit our own support staff.  The person who handed the job over to me advised me to “watch candidates walk to and from the lift – if they walk slowly, don’t hire them, they will never stand the pace”.  Not sure how you would square that with HR these days but she was surprisingly accurate.