We’re talking about enthusiasm this week. And nothing says “I’m enthusiastic” more than a high five.
Won an account? High five.
Just did some amazing creative? High five.
More bran in your diet? Well, that’s a high five for sure.
But, please note. There are some things to consider when going all out to show your unbridled enthusiasm.
#1: Choose Wisely
DO: Find the right moments to dole out the ‘ol high five. It’s not like eating Mentos. You can’t just keep going and going. If there is a legitimate reason to get the palms up and out, do it. You’ll know when it’s the right time. Experiment a couple of times to know what the high five limits are in your place of business.
DON’T: High five for no apparent reason. If Puddy taught us one thing (OK, two things: it feels like an Arby’s night), it’s that the high five should not be fired all willy-nilly.
Also, note the body language of your recipient. If he or she doesn’t go in with the same amount of vigor, then that’s probably not the right time.
#2: Make Sure Your Technique Is Solid
DO: Get the hand out, turned slightly to compensate for the wind and keep it slightly behind your elbow. This allows you to make changes mid-swing. If someone is coming at you with the “Perfect 90 Technique,” where the elbow, arm and hand are at a perfect 90 degrees and look like something out of a geometry quiz, then you can adjust. If someone is hell-bent on a Windmill (which is usually reserved for winning some kind of championship), you can take a quick step back, then go in with extra flourish.
And follow through. Don’t stop short.
DON’T: Go “Perfect 90 Technique.” This is awkward on so many levels and affords you no real opportunity to do much of anything. This will stifle creativity and leave you with an unwanted situation.
Also, don’t assume that the other person has a good technique down. Take that brief moment pre-clasp to assess the situation and do your best to work around. Please see Tiger Woods and former caddie Steve Williams at The Masters.
#3: Ensure You Have The Right Body Spacing
DO: Give yourself enough room so that a high five can be done without a running start. The whole point of a high five is that it should feel natural and easy to accomplish whilst just standing. One or two steps in is OK to get ready, but something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon should be considered verboten.
Good rule of thumb. 4 feet or so.
DON’T: Be so close or too far away.
If you are at a table, make sure the “lean quotient” isn’t too high. If you could conceivably strain something by going for a high five across the conference room table, just ignore it. It’s not worth it. And it is difficult to explain how you pulled three muscles in your back because of a high five gone horribly wrong.
Also, be aware of being too close.
First off, no one like a close-talker. Secondly, if you add a close-high-fiver to the mix, that’s just a recipe for trouble.
#4: Variations Are OK
DO: Mix it up. A fist bump is perfectly acceptable. A gentle two-finger tap is always a good one. An index finger ala E.T. can work as well. The presumed high five without contact from across the room is always a crowd pleaser. Backhands are great. Especially if you’re high-fiving Roger Federer.
DON’T: Be too creative. You’re not in the hunt for the World Series. If you do some kind of crazy celebration with sixteen variations of the classic in sequential order, people may look at you funny.
Or send you down to Double A ball.
#5: Beware Too Much Oomph
DO: Go medium on the swing. There is a happy medium on the finish to a well done high five. Enough energy that people know you’re enthusiastic, but not enough that it numbs the hand for a good three hours.
DON’T: Go for the gusto every time. I once had a boss who did everything in his power to slap hard. And he didn’t even realize he was doing it. I think I may have had a hairline fracture because of one of his ebullient swings.
Or, it could be that I’m just a wuss.
It’s kind of 50/50 on that one.
#6: Know The Correct Path
DO: Let the natural sway of your arm and arc carry the day here. You’ll know it when you feel it. A high five should never feel forced and the laws of nature are clearly in play here.
Practice with a buddy. You’ll appreciate that you did. In fact, if I get documented proof that you did practice, I’ll give you a delegate pass to Advertising Week. First one in wins.
DON’T: Do that thing where you slap hands and go straight up. You know what I’m talking about. The “Perfect 90 Technique” coupled with a finish right to the heavens. It just doesn’t work.
And don’t do a little hop when you do this either, it’s just creepy.
#7: Never Leave ‘Em Hanging/Make Sure They’re Watching
DO: Signal intent either directly or with body language. Make sure that you are seen so you don’t get left hanging or flat-out denied. If you must go Puddy, say “high five.”
If you do get left at the high five altar, just play it off and high five yourself. Raucous laughter will ensue.
Unless you’re alone.
In that case, sigh and go get coffee or something.
DON’T: Be like Jeff Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. As a lifelong fan, it pains me to even include this.
But it really is your cautionary tale.
Anything I’m missing here?