Somehow, there is an irony in the fact that you can gauge a personality by a handshake.  I believe that a handshake is a barometer of confidence.  There are as many variations as people.  Limp and loose, exact and firm, clammy and oppressive, combative and intrusive.  I’ve yet to shake the hand of a successful woman whose grip is woefully limp and damp.  I’ve not shaken the hand of a leader whose effective grip was curtailed by a weak sense of self-worth.  This is not to say that an effective handshake signals a healthy ego.  Sometimes, we just have to fake it.

Whether a social or business environment, a proper handshake will commence an impression.  Let’s kick-off our imprint in a positive light!

  • Step 1: Introduce yourself. 

                                         Verbally introduce yourself while looking your target in the eye.

  • Step 2: Extend you hand
  • Step 3: Grip

This is neither the time for a power struggle or limp lady-fingers.  Grasp the hand of your partner in much the same way you would grasp a door handle.  Use your entire hand.

  • Step 4: Pump 2-3 times from the elbow

Remember, this is supposed to be a respectful and brief gesture.  This is not the time to demonstrate your developed pecks honed by years of Tai Bo workouts.  It is also not the time to hang on and pump endlessly signifying you might be weird.

  • Step 5: End the shake after 3-4 seconds

If you feel as though you would like to hang on longer and prolong the physical intimacy, consider taking them out to dinner and a movie.

OK….you’ve executed flawlessly.  You’ve demonstrated a healthy dose of confidence and sincerity.  What if you’ve received one or more of the following in return?


A Two-Hander

A mitten

A Lady-Finger

If you’ve just been left with a palm full of sweat, resist the natural urge to immediately wipe the residue on the closest dry surface possible.  While uncomfortable, you must try to avoid embarrassing your handshaking partner. WAIT.  Only when the coast is clear may you discreetly dry your hand.  This might also be the appropriate time to take your potty-break and head to the sink for a quick wash & dry.

The Two-Hander is often referred to as the “Politician’s Handshake”.  You’re hand has been encapsulated by not one but both hands of the shaker.  While I’m certain this might be acceptable at the Democratic National Convention, it is never appropriate with anyone other than a close friend or acquaintance.  You’ve been bumped artificially.  Move on.

You live in Canada.  It is February.  Your neighbor is trying to kick-start their snowmobile.  You approach and are greeted with a handshake covered in deer-hide.  Is this acceptable?  Yes.  Unless icy temperatures prevail, kindly remove your hand-covering prior to shaking.  The other tolerable circumstance might be at the opera where your fellow shaker is wearing opera gloves.  This happens to me all the time.

And last but certainly not least.  Your hand has been victimized by the 3-finger, placid, seemingly spineless Lady-Finger shake.  This is singly the most irritating handshake on the planet – to me.  Ask yourself the following questions before making a hasty judgement:

1.) Are you south of the Mason-Dixon Line?
2.) Are you attending a ladies cotillion?
3.) Are you attending the back-stage party at a “My Fair Lady” theatrical opening?

If you answered “no” to all of these questions, you my friend, have been clutched by someone who just might be suffering from poor self-esteem.  At the least, you’ve been delivered a message that says “I am the inferior person in this exchange”.  This is neither good nor bad but it always elicits a rise in my throat that I have to stifle.  I am always tempted to shout to my exchanger “PLEASE, exhibit some evidence of self-worthiness”!  But I don’t.  I smile with the sincerity of Mona Lisa and say “It is a pleasure to meet you”.  And I mean it.

K. Martini