Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gimme Five

High fives work best if you focus on the other person’s elbow.

I learned this bit of wisdom a couple of years ago, and just a few weeks later it proved to be spectacularly true. A friend and I achieved, thanks to elbow sighting, a perfectly formed forearm arc culminating in a flawless thwack that rang out around us.

I stood back for a moment to reflect on the beautiful thing we had created.

Just then, someone else bounded across the room to congratulate us on our technique, which had impressed him from twenty feet away.

The Elbow Trick: It can’t lose!

Of course, solid fives also require situational awareness.

A few weeks ago, a client called my office with a problem that eventually took me, a department manager, two off-site staff, and half a dozen phone calls across three cities to solve. Later in the day, I was upstairs delivering mail when that manager spotted me.

Then she extended her hand at an angle right between “handshake” and “low five.”

I assessed the interpersonal factors involved as quickly as possible…

…and opted for the five. We made contact with a satisfying, elbow-targeted smack.

Then the person standing behind me placed the cell phone that the manager had been waiting for into her still-outstretched hand.

The Elbow Trick: It can still lose.

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