When should a first impression be valued as a lasting impression?
Some people seem to set great store (perhaps even at job interviews) at being
able to judge someone else's personality by one's impression when shaking hands.
Does anyone believe that a handshake could reveal much about one's personality?
Valentin Berezhkov (who spoke English and German) was Stalin's interpreter.
"I must be one of a few people alive today who shook hands with every major
political figure of the period of World War II: Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt,
Chou En-Lai. A more glib writer could perhaps spin off an entire novel just about
those handshakes. They were indeed each different and unique. And they
certainly reflected each individual's character. Churchill's hand was big, yet soft
and warm, enveloping and comforting, as it were. Roosevelt greeted people by
energetically putting out his hand, which had that special strength that is quite
typical of people who have problems with their legs. Chou En-Lai's handshake
was fairly firm yet delicate and friendly. ... (Hitler's) palm was cold and damp,
giving me an unpleasant sensation, as if I were touching a reptile. His handshake
was limp and expressionless. In this he resembled Stalin. Stalin's handshake was
flat and indifferent. He would, as it were, slide it into the hand of the person he
was shaking hands with."
--Valentin Berezhkov (At Stalin's Side, p. 8)
(Zhou Enlai was not yet a major figure during the Second World War, and Valentin
Berezhkov did not meet him until after the war. Valentin Berezhkov liked and
thought highly of Zhou Enlai.)
I suspect that Valentin Berezhkov subconsciously allowed his knowledge of what
each man had done to influence his subjective impressions of their handshakes.
Was it just a coincidence that his least favourite handshakes were with Hitler
(who had mistakenly assumed he was a native speaker of German) and Stalin?
"Ich bilde mir ein, dass ich auch in die Geschichte eingehen werde."
--Adolf Hitler (as told to and quoted by Valentin Berezhkov)
Und morgen die ganze Welt!