A few days ago I met a man for the first time. As custom dictated we shook hands upon introduction. Much to my amusement, it became a competition. See, I don’t stand down when I receive a firm handshake. I return the handshake. Squeeze my hand harder and I will meet your challenge. It was especially amusing because the man was twice my age and only reached my shoulder. By the time the introduction ended, I had white finger-imprints on my hand and had to focus hard not to giggle at this very obvious alpha male display. (He turned out to be an extremely interesting man!)
Yes, we do reveal a significant amount with our handshakes. And we also read a lot into a handshake. Honestly, I much prefer the above-mentioned gentleman’s strong handshake than a soft, weak handshake. I think most people prefer medium firm handshakes. This is something that we should pay attention to since this is part of the first impression you create. You don’t want to crush someone’s hand and put them off with your display of strength or vise versa.
There are quite a few different types of handshakes. Here are the first five:
- The EQUAL handshake: Most handshakes are like this. No one is trying to control or to yield. It is simply a quick, uneventful social greeting. The message it conveys is relaxed and non-threatening.
- The FIRM handshake: (Like the one above). This is a tricky one. It could be because the person really is an alpha personality. Or it could be that the person is trying to communicate that he/she has a strength they don’t feel/possess. In so many ways this can be misinterpreted and is widely discouraged.
- The PALM DOWN handshake: When someone turns your hand until theirs is on top. Clearly the message is dominance and is considered rude. There’s not much else to be said.
- The PALM UP handshake: The opposite to above, but not necessarily a weak handshake . The lower hand usually submits to or accommodates the dominating hand. This does not mean that the non-domineering person will not win the negotiations, and is by no means a determiner of the outcome of the relationship. But again, this is not encouraged, because it doesn’t create a positive first impression.
- The PUMPING handshake: It is a safe assumption that this person is usually very energetic and enthusiastic about their work/hobbies/etc. It can be overwhelming and inappropriate and is also discouraged. Like the crushing handshake, I usually find this really amusing. Well, until my teeth start rattling.
What kind of handshake do you prefer? Which kind do you have?