What NOT To Do When Shaking Someone’s Hand

I’ll start out by saying that I think the way you shake someone’s hand says a lot about you in a very short amount of time. I contributes immensely to the first impression you are giving them and, thus, is very important.

1. NO “dead fish” handshakes.
This is without a doubt the most important part. Do not go in with a limp hand that you frailly place inside theirs. Apart from feeling kind of awkward for them because they aren’t sure if you were trying to hold their hand or if you have some kind of problem with your hand muscles; it also sends a bad message. This says you feel inept. It screams that you are not confident and might be slightly scared of them. The gesture is timid and it feels like they could break you with a gentle squeeze. People are attracted to confidence and they trust it.

2. Avoid the “over gripper.”
I’m sure everyone has come across one of these lovely folks. That person (normally a guy) who goes in for a handshake with a giant smile on their face. They then proceed to squeeze your hand as hard as is humanly possible with their muscle mass. Apart from wondering what information they are trying to extract from you with the medieval torture device you can only assume is called the “Jaws of Life,” it makes them seem very self conscious. Over-gripping in a hand shake is normally caused by someone trying to show off how “macho” they are. They are obviously not very confident in themselves and they need other people’s pain to reassure them that they are tough. Sometimes, when two over-grippers engage in a gripping battle, the handshake can last an uncomfortably long time when they motionlessly try to decide who the more “macho” one is. This also makes a person seem like they lack confidence.

3. The lingering shake.
Much like this sounds, it is when you have a handshake and the person just doesn’t let go right away. A handshake is meant to be a quick, semi-formal greeting that shows respect and a certain level of trust. It is not meant to be a creepy length of time spent trying to pull away from someone. Much like hugs that last too long, it leaves open time where at least one party is wondering what is going on. This will negatively affect how they view and react to you both consciously and subconsciously. 

4. The “over-reacher” shake.
Ever shook someone’s hand and felt like they were trying to reach for your elbow? It is about as uncomfortable feeling as it sounds. Some people have it in their mind that a handshake is meant to be carried out by grabbing a person on the wrist or forearm. This is extremely awkward if you don’t expect it or see it coming, not to mention it looks really strange to onlookers. I suppose this could make you seem over-zealous or just plain odd.

A handshake is a very basic thing, but it is important to get it down. A good handshake should be firm, but not painful tight, last for between two and four shakes and end immediately after the last one. You should make eye contact while shaking someone’s hand and offer a small, non-creepy, smile.


Posted on March 10, 2014, in Daily Rantings and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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