Your Handshake Sends a Message

Are you satisfied with your personal brand – your handshake? It immediately sends a message to the person shaking your hand something about you. Whether you like it or not, they will make some assumptions. You may have one of these handshake styles and chances are you have experienced them.

The Dead Fish Handshake

Limp to the point of nausea, the “take away message” is you are just not interested.

The Wet Noodle Handshake

Slippery. It might not be the grease on your hand, but I am having a tough time holding on. It makes me wonder, can I trust what you say.

If stress is causing it, find a way to wipe your hand down before going in for the shake.

The Clutcher Handshake

OK. I get it, you can death grip – now, and please let me go! I’ve got to wonder how controlling you are.

The Touch Handshake

In Roger Dooley’s post, The Handshake – Brain Connection, he cites some research where touch can play a role in stimulating receptivity. As he points out, it is situational.

Some cultures accept additional touch points in a handshake. It may be in the form of lightly covering the hand with your other hand or touching the side of the person as you shake.

Touch can also mean something else. For example, covering the hand is another way of conveying concern. Sometimes, a kiss on the cheek is given at the time of a handshake, signifying affection. The level of familiarity you have with the other party will often dictate the amount of touch.

The Avoider

If you go in for a shake and someone turns away, it may be they are not comfortable personally or professionally with a handshake. For example, Donald Trump blogs the only thing better than a good handshake is no handshake at all.

There are also situations where handshakes may not be acceptable culturally or for religious reasons. Women may refrain from physical contact with the opposite sex, especially in the parts of the Middle East and Asia. Let them initiate the handshake to ensure boundaries are not being overstepped. If you extend you hand, they will graciously decline citing their customs.

Ideal Handshake

The art of a great handshake requires balance between having a firm clasp with a couple of strong up and down movement, eye contact and letting go in the right amount of time. A lingering handshake will make the other person feel a little uneasy. The ideal handshake is not something the other person remembers, it simply reinforces their confidence.


General Etiquette: How To Give A Great Handshake by Jon Foster

And then there are all the other variations.

The High Five or Meeting of the Fists

A very casual greeting. Both parties greet one another by slapping their palms quickly together in midair or clenching their fists and bumping them together. Save it for the weekend.

The Secret Handshake

Usually known by individuals in an association or group to identify and greet their members. It’s best to do this in private, otherwise, the secret is out or other people may feel excluded from the greeting.

The Elbow

The shake is elbow to elbow rather hand to hand. I use this one when I am not feeling well; hoping to infuse a little humor – with someone I already know. If it is a first introduction, it’s better to beg forgiveness citing my concern for their health and well being.

It can be a bit confusing, though if you are going to market yourself effectively, ensure your handshake says the message you want to covey. When in doubt, the universal handshake is a smile.

About Lynn Dessert (431 Posts)

Lynn Dessert is an ICF trained certified NLP Coach specializing in Executive Career coaching based in Charlotte NC. She works with individuals and organizations to maximize personal effectiveness skills—a cornerstone to career advancement. Lynn is the author of What To Do After Being Fired and The Secerts to Successful Job On-Boarding. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 704.512.2852 today.


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