Friday, May 21, 2010


How many times could a handshake result in more effective – more positive – more peaceful results than arm wrestling to prove who’s strongest – physically, mentally, emotionally, financially?

Working with each other (the handshake approach) implies the potential for all involved to benefit. The process goes by many names, among them, teamwork, collaboration and communication.

Working against each other (the arm wrestling approach) implies competition, and competition implies someone loses. This process goes by many names, too: conflict management, power struggle, and a “we” versus “they” mentality.

According to Brigadier General (Retired) Charles Campbell, Afterburner Director of Flawless Execution University (, in the 1980’s the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) conducted an exhaustive study regarding airline disasters. The results of the study led them to the conclusion that the vast number of plane disasters were not caused by inclement weather, pilot error or mechanical failure. In fact, most airline disasters were caused by the absence of teamwork, collaboration and communication.

In the 1990’s, a similar study was conducted by the WHO (World Health Organization) regarding the causes of error-related deaths. The results showed that such deaths were not caused by lack of training or lack of skills of medical professionals. Deaths caused were also not tied to unavailable facilities and resources. It was discovered that, like the NTSB study, error-related deaths are much more likely to occur due to the absence of teamwork, collaboration and communication.

Thirty-thousand feet in the air or a hospital surgical suite . . .
. . . distress among family members, political controversy, labor-management disputes, war in the streets and with other countries . . .

How many times could a handshake prevent heartache? Would (1.) working together as a team, (2.) building upon each others’ strengths in collaboration, and (3.) respectfully communicating with each other lead to better outcomes?

I vote in favor of a handshake.