Handshake Advice

Advice on handshakes from Handshake 2.0 From Bob Giles:

Shake hands often with everybody. It doesn't hurt and may help.

Appear eager to shake hands; make it first on the agenda.

A firm handshake is good and expected. How firm is firm?  You ought to be able to get juice to start to flow from a half grapefruit with the right firmness.

Most old guys have arthritis in their hands. Too firm hurts!  You only "make points" with a crushing handshake if you are applying for a position as a bouncer.

People once "read" other people from their handshakes (shape, roughness, pressure, etc.). False messages were sent and many were poorly translated. An eager, firm, lasting handshake, accompanied by smiling and constant eye contact are the keys to good handshakes.

Never just lay your hand into the hand of another (the dead fish). A handshake is a grasp, an expression of "self" as well as an expression of mutual greeting and willingness to be together, at least for awhile.

If a person’s hand  is injured, grasp the hand extended.

Pump no more than twice.

Grasp the hand of an elderly, honored, long-awaited, or loved person with both hands.

Be sure to stand up to shake hands if possible.

Become thoughtful when a person is unwilling to shake hands.  Size up the reason.

Get the rules for handshakes in foreign countries before you visit. Greetings vary by culture. 

Wipe off a sweaty hand on your pants or pocket. Still, real people are more interested in you than in the cleanliness or hygiene of your hand. (This rule may change with disease threats.)

But if a friend shows up in your backyard to introduce someone to you and you've been gardening and spreading compost?  Don't offer to shake hands. Apologize quickly and get on with the conversation.

And, men, don't expect women to offer their hands. Wait. They go first or not at all. It's the old rule but it works.


Robert H. Giles, Jr. writes High Five for Handshake 2.0, a business news and Web 2.0 public relations services enterprise of Handshake Media, Incorporated, a member company of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks. 

The opinions Robert Giles expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients. 

Feel free to follow Robert H. Giles, Jr. on Twitter @Bob_Giles

Robert H. Giles, Jr. is a Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus with a vision for a rural land management system.  He writes two blogs, The Survivalists and Faunal Force

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