No Fishy Handshakes Please

Last week I was speaking at a big event and had the pleasure of meeting many people. I was, however,  unhappily struck by the number of people who don’t realize the negative impression of their fishy handshake.

What do I mean by a ‘fishy’ handshake? Well, when you offer just the fingers of your hand or when you fail to grasp the other person’s hand and shake it with confidence; you run the risk of having people think you are weak. This especially goes for men shaking hands with women. It is disrespectful to barely shake hands with a woman. It makes them think that you don’t think of them as equals.

You’ve probably heard the story about why we shake hands, i.e.,  to show that we have no weapons in our hands. Aside from the way we dress and eye contact, our handshake is another very important signal of our confidence.

When you shake hands, please, oh please I’m begging you, look the person in the eye and give them a gentle but firm handshake. This isn’t a strength contest but it is a chance to make the other person sit up and take notice of your positive manner.  So ladies,  put your hand out there and shake firmly. Guys, do the same. it’s so important!

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  • By Rusty Tyson, May 25, 2011 @ 11:47 am

    Hello Deb – A relative (who clowns around a lot) has for years been a real threat as a Hand Cruncher. Within the last six months (last time I’ll shake her hand, I swore) she was, I thought, going to show me how strong she is, and I was appropriately on guard to pull back my hand before I was maimed. Instead, I got a handshake that turned to moosh, and the only apt way I could describe it was that it seemed to me, since I have no first hand experience at it, as how necrophilia might feel. Ycch. You Betcha, the quality of any handshake says a Whole Lot. Here’s to some RealGood HandShakes.
    Thanks & All th’ e-Best
    Rusty Tyson

  • By Peter Schlachter, May 25, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

    Hi! Handshakes are huge in our culture. I go for the ‘palm slap and shake’ with men, and the ‘medium palm-finger-ish shake’ with women. Thinking us men can disfigure a perfectly good manicure without thinking. I don’t think most women want ‘man’ handshakes, but they appreciate the ritual like the other sex, only for them. And damp hands are the worst. Bring a hankie, please!

  • By Deborah, May 26, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    Peter, thanks for your comment. I think it’s interesting that you think all women have manicures, we don’t. I prefer people to give me a handshake based on where I’m meeting them (maybe a slap and shake is great for the kids little league field) than on my gender. Damp hands are bad, agreed!

  • By Deborah, May 26, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    Rusty, thanks for the comment. I guess there will always be these people who think they’re making a statement with their handshakes. I guess all I can say is be prepared! Allt he best, Deb

  • By Lisa, May 26, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

    Limp handshakes always make me thing that the other person doesn’t really want to be there, or want to be dealing with me. It comes across as somehow reluctant and disinterested. That is completely NOT the impression you want to make with your handshake.

  • By Deborah, May 27, 2011 @ 5:54 am

    Lisa, thanks for your comment. More great reasons to test your handshake and make sure you’re leaving a positive impression. “disinterested” is definitely not the impression you want to leave. best, d

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