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What's in a handshake?

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

The handshake has a long history and dates back to the 5th century BC as a symbol of peace, showing neither person was holding a weapon. We’ve come a long way since then and a handshake says so much more, especially in today’s business world. Even though the handshake is now replaced by either a fist or elbow bump (thanks Covid), the social and legal tradition of the handshake won’t see it become extinct anytime soon.

Business deals have long been done via a handshake and have remained legally binding under most circumstances. However, a handshake carries more than legal responsibility.

The simple act of shaking hands inherits an unspoken, but globally accepted moral and social contract both parties are bound by. It is the expectation that both parties will do the right thing by each other. That both parties will fulfil their obligation in a timely, professional and honest manner. When a handshake is honoured, trust is established, credibility fortified and reputation built. After all, your reputation is your silent differentiator (

Money has the greatest impact on a business relationship and all business deals ultimately start and end with a financial transaction. It is as simple (or hard) as getting invoices paid on-time and vice versa, honouring the obligation to pay bills on-time. How do we make honouring the handshake simpler, especially in the context of day to day activities such as paying your bills or getting your invoices paid?

One alternative is to inject early payment incentives ( and automated scheduled payments capabilities into your current accounting and invoice workflow. Suddenly, paying your bills early or on-time just got simpler and in many instances, paying earlier contributes to your net profit. As a supplier, offering early invoice payment discount (instead of product discount) becomes the new way to reward loyalty. Plus, it will improve your cash flow and net profit.

Traditionally, honouring the handshake used to be manual, tedious and difficult to fulfil.

Fortunately, technology has evolved since the 5th Century BC. Honouring the handshake can now be automated and easily scaled using software. It’s the equivalent of honouring 1000s of hands in a matter of minutes. I wonder what our ancestors will think about that!


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