I couldn't remember if I'd been writing about "The Handshake Project" or not, so I did a Google search operator on my own blog and the answer... nope, not at all. I must have been Twittering about it (follow me on Twitter!). Let's remedy that!
The Handshake Project is an experiment that I've been testing since the beginning of the year. Each time that I encounter a situation where there exists a physical counter between me and the person on the other side, I reach over the top of the counter and introduce myself before we get down to business.
So far, without having to ask, I've gotten a free upgrade to first class on a flight, a giggle from a McDonald's employee, and a whole over-sized dump truck load of smiles. I have no goal for this experiment; I'm not trying to "get" free stuff. I'm simply opening the door for someone to feel good about themselves by showing them that we are equals. Most people that sit/stand on the other side of the counter must deal with the problems of the world all day long... it's easy to understand how they might approach each new face with pessimism and think, "What's your problem?"
There are times when I'm in great need of service--a major problem that needs a solution--but most of the time, I just want to give someone a smile. When I do so, they want to make me smile and will go out of their way to make it happen, consciously or subconsciously.
My latest experiment was with a doorman/security in Irving Park who greets a thousand people per day. When I reached across the counter, he was surprised. With an "Oh" and a smile, he quickly stood up, shook my hand and we traded names. Didn't need anything. Didn't get anything. But, definitely, gave someone a smile. Someday I might need him to call me a cab or recommend a restaurant and maybe, just maybe, he'll remember me and do so gladly.
So, straighten up your tie, reach across the counter and say, "Hi."