This came up in another thread, and rather than hijack, I decided to start this one. It is something I have always just done, never really thought about, and assumed everyone did it that way.
Some men make a dominance display out of the way the shake hands. Because you often shake hands with strangers, men need to be prepared for this. I have never encountered this behavior from a woman, so I go in with my guard down.
It may be just me that draws the dominance thing from some men. I am a very large man, height and otherwise (though I have made a lot of progress on the latter). When I shake a man’s hand I need to be prepared for a really firm squeeze, as a lot of men seem to either think I expect that, or are out to prove something. I need to make sure I grasp all the way up to their thumb, and make sure they don’t grab me by the fingers only. This is an issue with about 20% of the strangers (men) I shake hands with. 60% get it about right, (light pressure, but rigid, so firm feel) and another 20% or so do the limp fish thing.
With women, their hands are small enough that my finger tips almost (and in some cases do) meet the heel of my hand, if I grabbed it the same way I grab a man’s hand. Their palm is short enough that I am holding half fingers even if fully up to their thumb. This prevents them from squeezing at all. This is how domineering assholes try to grab a man’s hand to inflict a painful handshake.
So when I shake a woman’s hand, I don’t wrap my fingers around their hand. I use my thumb to press the back of their hand or fingers into my mostly straight fingers. Think of how prince charming would hold the princess’ hand when kissing it…then give it a squeeze instead of a kiss.
And finally, when greeting small children, I do it similarly, but using only two fingers instead of all four.
I shake all the same. Maybe a tiny bit less firm with women at the most. Men rarely do that sort of dominance thing I’ve heard about with women, anyway. But I always look people in the eye and give them a firm handshake.
I’m a woman and it offends me to no end when men shake my hand like I’m some delicate princess-- particularly in professional settings. Don’t freaking limp dead fish hand me because you think you’re going to break my delicate lady hand, sir- you won’t, I promise.
What’s even worse are women that do the princess thing when I go to shake their hands. You know what I mean, right? Rather than coming at your hand straight on with their hand turned to the side, they come from the top, palm down, and touch their fingers to the middle of your hand. I suppose I can understand why they do this to men (and I still contend that’s dumb), but why in the hell would someone do this to another woman?
I’ve had male clients do this on numerous occasions (in the professional setting that is my office) and each time, I pull my hand away and unceremoniously wipe it off. If the hand sanitizer is handy, I’ll use that. Don’t kiss someone’s hand ever, ok? The 26 year old woman doesn’t want old man dribble on her hand, not even once. (And I realize you’re probably kidding, I’m just saying otherwise though).
Maybe I’m just a weird lady (people have said so) but the way you handshake feels repellant and gives me the shudders. It’s like a creepy old uncle who who kisses you too gently while lingering too near your face. yuck. Just grasp my hand firmly. I’m not made of china.
If someone gives me their limp lifeless hand, I squeeze it as little as possible. And people giving me the limp hand are women more often than men. So I voted that I do discriminate based on gender, although it’s probably more accurate that I discriminate based on the other person’s handshake.
I do 'em the same if I can–you’ll get a hand that is clearly alive but is in no way aggressive; my thumb joint is going for your thumb joint.
Guys who crush me are allowed to do so, and doors close as a result–If I’m feeling very puckish, I might turn to a colleague and glibly alert them as to my discovery of the dominant male of the group; guys who go limp on me are reassessed visually for a while.
I’ve gotten two kinds of handshakes from wimmins. Some meet me with a human hand of normal constitution and neutrality. Others don’t go for the thumb joint hand clasp, but instead do a pincer grip on my fingers which leads me into a princess handshake. It’s almost like they take me for a crusher and want to head it off. I’m never quite sure how to take that, and while it doesn’t adversely affect the handshake message, it robs them of the opportunity to gain whatever additional trust is conveyed in the gesture.
I try to shake everyone’s hand the same but about half the time I reach out to shake a woman’s hand she will slip we a fish, like **DiosaBellissima **describes. So, as I reach out, I might get a normal handshake or I might end up with a handful of fingers. I adjust my shaking according to what I find in my hand. This happens with men from time to time, when one of us miscalculates the range, but it happens a lot more with women.
On the hand kissing: I only do that when I travel to places where it is the done thing, and then only when the hand is presented such that the expectation is clearly communicated. Hand high and back upward.
I can’t recall if I read it or was instructed, But I do recall being advised that it is rude to actually touch your lips to the lady’s hand. Just puff some air on it from a few inches while looking her in the eye briefly. Expect her to take offense to lips, much less spit on her hand. I did receive some personal instruction on how to properly help a lady into her coat, which seems to correlate with hand kissing, culture wise.
No mention of rape yet? Good. (Oh, damn, I blew it there, didn’t I?)
Yes, I shake differently. My approach with a man is firmer than my shake with a woman.
I’ve never kissed on the hand. I do lightly kiss on the cheeks where culturally appropriate (Eastern/Central Europe, for instance.)
I’ll be honest. I find shaking women’s hands kind of awkward most of the time. The reason being, it feels a bit business-like to me, and a lot of women I know tend to be more huggers. For example, I work in the wedding industry as a photographer. At the end of the night, I say goodbye to my clients. Most of my brides will go in for a hug, some will wait to see what I do first. I generally offer a handshake if I’m making the first move, but I’ve had instances where the handshake was kind of left hanging and the goodbye morphed into a hug. It’s weird, because there’s no consistent rule, and it takes reading the person. Some are obvious huggers. Others are obvious handshakers. It’s the in-between that’s a pain-in-the-ass. (I’m exaggerating the awkwardness here a bit, but you get the point.) In Central Europe, I found it pretty simple. With women, it’s kiss-kiss (or kiss-kiss-kiss depending on country) on the cheek goodbye.
I’m less willing to shake a man’s hand. Some men don’t wash their hands after touching their dick when they piss or jack off. I would shake it, if they extend their hand of course, but I’m not usually the first one to volunteer.
I generally try to follow the lead of the person I’m shaking hands with, but err on the side of gentleness. I’ve been told I have a crushing grip, and I don’t want to cause pain unintentionally. If someone takes that as license to try to cause me pain, the gloves come off, as it were. (Actually, I’ve found that one of the most unnerving things you can do to that brand of asshole is fail to notice that they’re trying for a crushing grip.)