questionshow important is a handshake?


Sorry that there are so many questions wrapped into one here. Please feel free to answer all, just one, or any combination. As you can see, I am very animated about this topic.


@gopvifootball: This is a pretty good point. You should go with your instinct. A handshake is very important. Being female, I practiced shaking hands with my brothers, and with male classmates, until it was naturual and acceptable (and I recommend that young women learn to do this). It sounds trivial, but it's one of the things that we've come to expect people in the business world to do, and a proper handshake is part of that ritual meeting that we've done for hundreds of years.

A limp handshake sets the wrong tone, and it's tough to recover from it.

It's funny. We've moved past the business card era (mostly), and yet I still get handed cards all the time. I take them politely, and tell the person thank you, and tuck it away. I go to the bother of typing in the relevant information into my phone, and then put the card in my collection, never to be seen again.



@gopvifootball: [Continued]

Here's an odd thing, though. Men shake hands. Usually, as long as it's a group of equals, and in an industry where shaking hands is common, men and women shake hands with each other. I think that women shaking hands with other women is less common, until you've moved up the food chain significantly.

I was just in a situation today where I was meeting (for the first time) one man and one woman, and as I left, I shook his hand, and then hers. This was not because of gender, but because his position was higher.

Okay, now I'm just rambling, but the whole implication of shaking hands with a cold fish really caught my attention.

Yeah, don't do business with him. Shifty you-know-what, probably. ;-}


Many years ago a handshake sealed an agreement; it does the same today but with a bank of legal representatives on both sides. I don't read a lot into a handshake, but with a male/male I do prefer a firm shake with a slight movement up and down; male/female just a quick grasp is OK. (And I am implying hands there). :)


I actually do not like to shake hands, and rarely offer to do so, or take a hand when it is offered. Several reasons for this preference, but mostly, I just don't like touching people. Only in Western (and now, mostly only American) culture is this considered rude, and most of my co-workers and people I interact with are not American. Other than that, sorry, but I'm still not touching you.

Another big reason is, I work in a lab, and handshakes can have unwanted... passengers.


@shrdlu: In regards to shaking hands between men and women, I usually find it very awkward. Mind you, I am not out in the business world so my situations are casual.

Case Study: My guy-friend and his girlfriend/mutual friend are leaving. I shake his hand and say bye and then turn to his girlfriend. Should I shake her hand, should I hug her, should I pat her on the head, or should I just say bye and keep my distance. Shaking hands feels forced, hugging is embarrassing with her boyfriend right there, patting heads is just weird, and standing there seems anti social. I usually opt for the pat on the head. It brings to light how awkward the situation is and usually gets a chuckle.

Leaving the bar is a totally different story- Hugs all around!


wars have been fought, or not fought, on the basis of a handshake. Jobs have been gained or lost on a handshake. World-beating financial agreements have been made or broken over a handshake. Handshakes are important, and i also tend to shy away from doing business with anyone who has a dead-fish hand (unless it's clearly a medical problem. I wouldn't say no to stephen hawking based on a handshake :)

Aside from the dead-fish shake, i also don't give repeat business to the guy who shakes your hand like he wants to tear it off and eat it. An overly aggressive handshake makes me think he's compensating for a deficiency in his craft or abilities. Mostly it's just annoying. I've chosen to not hire someone if their hand shake were too dead, or too aggressive (or too lingeringly long, or too short that it was more of a fist bump or slap-five lol) though i can't say i've ever hired someone just because of a handshake.

Women handshakes are normal - at least here.


@gopvifootball: if any of my friends patted my wife on the head - there'd likely be a brawl. (not necessarily me, by the way - i'd have to pull her off the guy as she tries to rip his face off lol)

Just shake hands, man lol. If you're all close - a hug is not only acceptable, it's expected.


@goatcrapp: It's not like that at all. If I thought it would make someone even a little annoyed then I wouldn't do it. As it is, the couple I am referring to went to high school and grade school with me. Yes it's immature, but these are people that I grew up with and they understand that I still haven't grown up all the way.


The worst handshake I had was limp and wet. The guy didn't bother wiping his hand off on his pants or shirt before going in for it. When our hands made contact, he didn't exert any force. I'm not sure if this would be automatically kill a business transaction, but I'm glad I never saw him again nor plan on seeing him again.

I only care about handshakes because of an etiquette class we were forced to take in high school.

The "proper" technique as we learned it:

1. Stand roughly 3 feet away from your shakee (adjust depending on height of shakee and whether or not they are sitting or standing).
2. Make and maintain eye contact from initial hand offer to hand retraction.
3. Offer the hand roughly 50% between the distance between the shakee.
4. Once hands connect, make sure thumb web meets thumb web before firmly gripping.
5. Grip (start with moderate force but match grip force,) 1-2 pumps and let go.

*Only the initiator of the handshake is allowed to convert it to the two-hand shake.


Here in Texas a hand shake is very important that being said, I saw somewhere that when someone has a soft "deadfish like" hand shake they are trying to let you be the dominate individual, also you said that you forgot everyone else's name but you remembered his. He might be a genius or maybe he has carpal tunnel either way he obviously is pretty good at leaving an impression even if it's a bad one


I'm going to have to go with @anorion on this one... to me handshakes are relics that should be forgotten... I understand some people think that a handshake is necessary to greeting people, I also understand that some people shake hands on instinct (they don't even realize they are doing it)... but to me, it is a meaningless gesture of an age gone bye but still lingering.


I always notice both very firm and very weak handshakes. I always wonder about the first--is this their norm or are they trying to tell me something? And the second I simply dislike.


@curtisuxor: Wow! That was thorough instruction you got!


@theant and @anorion: Am I to assume that you two have a limp handshake if you ever happen to get dragged into one? Does a limp handshake really mean that you wish you were doing anything else in the world besides shaking hands? I find that odd since he was the one that innitiated the handshake. If you're going to start something I feel like you should actually want to do it. If you are on the receiving end, however, you are perfectly able to refuse the gesture or not put your whole heart into it.


I'm a "hand shaker". I always shake someone's hand when I meet them, thank them, and sometimes when leaving. So, to me, it's important. When I have someone who is a "dead fish", I tend to have less trust in them. I don't know why. I think the right term would be "smarmy".

Quick funny story. At an old job I was in the restroom. Someone was in the stall next to me, and I could see nothing but their shoes and pant color. When he finished his "business", he got up and left the bathroom. No hand cleaning. When I left, with sanitized hands, I went back to work. About 30 minutes later my boss came around introducing someone.. a manager from a different office. I recognized the shoes/pants as the one with unclean hands. The guy stuck out his hand, and I didn't. I said "nice to meet you", and diverted. My boss asked me about it later, and I told him why. He immediately went to wash his hands.


@gopvifootball: Nope, but it's been a few years since I've been coaxed into it.

@kmeltzer: That's another good reason to not.

Note: I will shake hands if I am wearing gloves or some such. I just don't want to touch you.


I most definitely notice a person's handshake, and think there's nothing worse than a dead fish handshake...I almost immediately want to retract my hand in utter disgust!
It definitely leaves an impression...a terrible one, and I agree that I would be less likely to do business with them.


@gopvifootball : you are correct, I would NEVER initiate a handshake, and I would probably be a limp one since I would very much rather be doing something else. The only handshakes I have participated in over the last couple years are from folks of exactly the opposite feelings. Some people (some of the posters here included) do not seem to know of any other way to greet people than a handshake. It's social training. A bunch of you guys grew up being taught that a handshake was important and even the "right" way to do it. I just happen to disagree...