Earlier this week North Korea and South Korea reached an agreement and will march under a unified flag at next month's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. They will also have a joint women's ice hockey team. Moreover, their ski teams will be training together in North Korea. In addition, the two Koreas will also be conducting joint cultural events at Mount Kumgang. Although many remain skeptical, these events - and the talks which made them possible - hopefully represents a true thawing of relations between the two countries.
The image above was taken at the commencement of a meeting leading up to this agreement. It's a picture that may have been taken specifically as a media "photo op". If this was the case, it's probable that these men were following orders in prearranged choreography and they may have already shaken hands - prior to this picture. Yet, it's just as likely (or even more so) that this was the time they ever shook hands.
Shaking hands should never be performed over/across a table. The table is not only a physical barrier - but it's also symbolic of a lack of full engagement and less than full commitment. It's a distancing phenomenon and - in some settings, it even suggests duplicity (depending on the other nonverbals with which this is clustered). It's antithetical to the whole idea of a greeting, friendliness, sincerity or engagement - and an excellent example of a signal of emotional dissonance.
Summary: Shaking hands across (over) a table is a serious faux pas. Sincere greetings should build rapport - not send mixed signals. Take the time to walk around the table (or any barrier) and stand closer to the person whom you're greeting. Consider strongly even saying something aloud, such as, "One moment, let me walk around - I don't want to shake your hands over this table" (with a self-deprecating tone of voice along with a sincere smile). This seemingly small detail is not small at all. The few seconds of touching another human being's hand during a handshake are far too often conducted with disrespect and inattention - and a crucial moment is lost.
What are some other body language mistakes do you see displayed in this photo?
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