17 February 2019

Handshaking

How should we shake hands?

Handshaking is important in British culture and indeed in many other cultures too. It's customarily how we meet or greet people. It can also be how we say goodbye. There's physical contact - not just smiles or words of greeting or farewell - but actual touch.

One's handshake  transmits information to the other party. A limp, seemingly reluctant handshake suggests disinterest or superiority. In contrast, an excessively strong handshake suggests that there's a power game going on. The provider of the "too firm" handshake may be deliberately attempting to claim some kind of illusory top dog spot.

Perhaps it's mostly characteristic of would-be alpha males but I can recall several manly handshakes which have almost caused me to yelp with sudden pain as my knuckles have been unexpectedly crushed. That's not how a genuine handshake should be. You surely should not cause the unsuspecting recipient any discomfort.

This is my philosophy of handshaking: it's a way of signifying respect for the other person and establishing equality. There should be no squeezing or limpness and you should avoid holding on -  never maintaining your grip for too long. 

A socio-psychologist could have a real field day observing and reflecting upon the handshakes that are meted out by the forty fifth president of the USA. Now there's someone who definitely uses his handshake as a means of  suppression or intimidation. He often squeezes too hard and deliberately hangs on for too long. These are techniques that he probably developed while working in real estate and property development. With him it's all about power.

I never thought I would find myself agreeing with anything said by the late George H.W.Bush, but with regard to handshaking, we are definitely on the same wavelength. He said:-

It is possible to tell things by a handshake. I like the "looking in the eye" syndrome. 
It conveys interest. I like the firm, though not bone crushing shake. The bone 
crusher is trying too hard to "macho it." The clammy or diffident handshake - 
fairly or unfairly - get me off to a bad start with a person.

26 comments:

  1. I can't abide a limp handshake. Ugh!

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    1. How about a limp milkshake?

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    2. I only like strawberry milkshake with lots of froth.

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  2. I agree with you absolutely and, fairly or unfairly, accurately or inaccurately, I do judge people by their handshake.

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    1. There may be no words but a handshake can say so much.

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  3. I used to be a civil servant in the Department of Trade & Industry and had to shake the hands of captains of industry, VIPs and politicians. It never failed to surprise me how many weak handshakes there were out there. I much prefer a nice firm but not crushing version.

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    1. It is gratifying that this post rang some bells for you ADDY. Perhaps some of the weak handshakes were deliberate - showing a degree of studied disinterest.

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  4. And men really have no idea how to shake a woman's hand. That's a whole OTHER topic. Related, yes, but different too. I try to indicate with my handshake that I'm strong but not ridiculous. And then, I usually hug whoever I've been shaking hands with. I don't meet that many people to be honest and when I do, it's probably someone that has a connection with my family in which case I just give them the mother-hug. But yeah, I'm a hugger.

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    1. It did cross my mind to comment on shaking hands with people of a different gender. Buy as you say that is indeed a whole other topic. Personally, I am not into hugging but if I ever meet you I will allow you to hug me Ms Moon. Please don't squeeze too hard and don't eat garlic beforehand.

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    2. I will try to comply, Mr. P.

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  5. My husband tends to shake hands a little too firmly for my taste. His mother drilled it into his head as a boy that a firm grip was important, and I've had to teach him that someone with smaller hands (like me) can find it painful. Nevermind an elderly person or someone with arthritis. So now he's much more careful about it!

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    1. Sounds like you are good at training husbands Jennifer. Shame that the same does not apply to parrots!

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    2. I refuse to negotiate with terrorists!

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    3. Ha-ha! Nice one. I hear the crowd chanting,"Marco! Marco! Marco!"

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  6. I don't think Bush was being fair about the clammy handshake! You can't help it if your hands are cold or hot or anything in between :)

    I knew a hugger - it was disconcerting to meet him for the first time (and every time thereafter) because he hugged, he didn't shake hands. Every time. There was nothing fishy about it, it was just too much, too soon, too often. Personal space, buddy; personal space. Some of us like it.

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    1. Hugging is a fairly recent phenomenon in Great Britain. I don't like it. I prefer a friendly traditional handshake.

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  7. Interesting post. I sometimes wonder if the handshake is one of the last remnants of civility left in our society today. I hope not. I agree with your philosophy of handshaking as it representing respect and equality. I do believe in a firm (but not overly so) handshake and I do not care for a limp or weak one.

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    1. If I ever meet you Bonnie I will merely shake your hand, resisting the urge to kiss it like an Italian!

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  8. There was an article in one of the weekend papers about handshaking and, how, in some circles it has gone "out of fashion".

    I still shake hands when I feel it is appropriate. I like to shake the hand of another and did so on Friday just past in thanks of a job well done, and nice words spoken.


    I shock the hand of a fine fellow...one of our local electricians who came to my aid; a man who has always been polite, friendly, helpful and a joy to speak with. He holds the same opinion of my landlord as I do!

    We are not alone in our opinion! :)

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    1. I think you need to hire a hitman. I swear that I won't tell anyone.

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    2. I agree, Yorkie! :)

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  9. I've seen these suggestions before. I think there's something to it but I don't think it's 100%.

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    1. If I shook hands with you I would do it firmly but with respect. Your knuckles would be okay.

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  10. There is nothing worse than a bone-crusher. To me, as you said, it signifies some kind of power game -- and usually some degree of insecurity on the part of the person doing the crushing.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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