The Importance of the Handshake

After a year and a half, I honestly thought I had covered this, but apparently not.

I’m a total fiend for a good handshake. The nice thing about running my own business is I am now in a position to decide who to do business with, and one of the things I judge people on is their handshake. I always have. I refuse to do business with people who have less than firm handshakes for many reasons. People with less than firm handshakes make me nervous. I wonder if they’re afraid of commitment or if they’re afraid that I (a short woman) am too delicate to receive a handshake equal in strength to the one I’m giving.

This morning, I was quite amused to read this Onion post on a CEO who got where he was strictly on his handshake. The problem with the Onion so often is their tongue-in-cheek story style, stories that are obviously not true but manage to comment on something really going on. What really bothered me, though, wasn’t the article. It was someone’s reaction to the article [dead link – sent me to a non-FC Tumblr]. The article isn’t pointless or nothingness. A good handshake is an endangered species.

For fun, I thought I’d include an article I wrote a few years back on the handshake:


In many areas of the world, the handshake is still regarded as a perfectly acceptable method of greeting. It is often the action that sets the tone for most business transactions.

In early days, the handshake was performed by each participant grasping the other participant’s forearm and giving a good, firm shake. This assured both parties that the other party was unarmed, and communicated each participant’s ability to defend himself in hand-to-hand combat.

In modern times, the handshake has been moved to take place hand to hand, but it is still about the implied message. Please allow me to run through the three most common handshakes and their conveyed messages:

– The Handshake- This is a good, firm handshake. Sometimes it is delivered as bone-crushing, but it is never weak. This shake lets your companion know that you are confident and that you respect them.
– The Limp Wrist- This is characterized as a light clasp of the hand. It may be used with women by bone-crushers who are afraid of breaking her hand. (Please break my hand! I’d rather nurse a wound than mistake you for a nancy boy!) The message here is that you have no idea why people shake hands, you do it out of tradition. I now know I can walk all over you, you pansy!
– The Cold Fish- You know it. You hate it. This one is characterized by almost no contact. An alarming number of people are using this one. The message is loud and clear: I’m too good for you. You have cooties. Please leave me and my obsessive-compulsive, hypochondriac nature alone. (I have actually refused to do business with perpetuators of this particular handshake…just something about them I cannot trust…)

All right, so now you know what to watch for, both as giver and receiver. Don’t be a cold fish! Show you’re a man! Grab that offered hand and shake it with confidence!


One thought on “The Importance of the Handshake

  1. Pingback: Smart Handshaking | a musing kiry

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