The Proper Handshake


Handshakes are an indispensable part of our lives. Day in and day out, we meet friends and colleagues with whom we are supposed to shake hands. Handshakes are as old as the human civilization. In Roman times, the practice of lower arm grasp was followed as a way to check if the other person has concealed a dagger under the sleeves. Slowly, this converted to a form of common greeting and then, it eventually turned into the modern day handshake.

Shaking hands has a lot of Do’s and Don’ts. You should not always offer a handshake to a stranger. Handshake is a sign of welcoming people. If you are unsure whether you are welcome at one place or not, it is better to not go for a handshake. Salespeople can be observed taking care of this all the while they meet a new person. They resort to a simple head-nod rather than initiating a handshake. A handshake should not convey dominance or submission. What it should actually show is equality. Let’s take a quick look at some of the common handshake customs around the world and their features.

The Equality Handshake

Whenever you shake hands, it’s interpreted as a subtle symbolic power struggle between you and the other person. In short, the palm of either of those involved in the handshake must neither be facing down nor facing up.

For a proper handshake, the palms of both the individuals must be in vertical position. Then, both the people must apply the same pressure. If you find that the pressure you are applying is greater or lesser than the other person, then you need to modulate your pressure accordingly.

Equality Handshake

The Submissive Handshake

The submissive handshake happens when your palm in facing up and is below the palm of the other person. This is called “palm up thrust”. This makes you look submissive. Don’t let the other person get an upper hand at the handshake.

Submissive Handshake

The Dominant Handshake

The opposite of submissive handshake is the dominant handshake. This happens when you place your arm above the palm of the other person and hence, your palm is facing down. This is called “palm down thrust”. This handshake conveys authority and dominance on your part. Don’t let the world think that you are submissive just because your palms are placed over the palm of the other person.

dominant Handshake

The Double Handler Handshake

When a person presents you with a palm down thrust, respond with your hand in the palm up position and then apply your second hand to make his palm straight. It is considered to be one of the most powerful handshakes in the world as it symbolizes sincerity and a strong bond between the two people involved in the handshake. This handshake is also called as the politician’s handshake, since politicians use this type of handshake a lot.

Double Handler Handshake

The Wet Fish Handshake

This is one of the worst handshakes in the world. In this handshake, the hands are cold and sweaty. This is perceived as a weak handshake and the person giving such a handshake is considered to be of weak character and to be lacking commitment.

Wet Fish Handshake

The Vice Handshake

The vice handshake is another much loathed handshake around the world. This handshake is done by a palm up thrust and then a stronghold of the other person’s hands followed by vigorous hand movements. The strokes are so hard that it appears the person giving such a handshake is too authoritative and dominant.

Vice Handshake

The Bone Breaker Handshake

In the bone breaker handshake, the person giving this handshake grips the hand of the other person and grinds it with his hands. This handshake signifies aggressive personality and should not be used at all.

Bone Breaker Handshake

The Fingertip Handshake

One of the most hated types of handshakes is the fingertip handshake. In this type of handshake, the two people merely touch the fingertips of each other and give a very slight stroke or may even miss the stroke. This handshake conveys lack of confidence and lack of self-esteem. This is a handshake observed many a times during job interviews. Even before the interview begins, this type of handshake puts off the interviewer and the interviewee’s impression goes for a toss.

Fingertip Handshake

The Straight Finger Handshake

In this type of handshake, the person giving the hand has all his fingers straight. It is a very bad and rude gesture not to clasp the palm of the other person, as it shows lack of interest in the meeting and repulsion towards the other person. Always remember to clasp the hands of the other person during a handshake and give it a proper stroke.

Important Tips

  • It should be noted that after giving a handshake, one should not hold or touch the arm of the person with the other hand. It is a mark of patronizing, which is not seen in good light by people across the world. Only people who are at a higher authority can do so.

  • One’s hands should not be sweaty or wet while giving a handshake. It is quite unprofessional and rude to have clammy hands while giving a handshake.

  • You should stand straight or you can bend a little to show respect while shaking hands. It is always to be noted that the palms and the hands must be vertical while giving the handshake, so as to signify equality.