Hand shaking etiquette

Today someone came up to me and introduced himself. He reached out his hand to shake hands with me. I went in for a “normal” handshake (grip and release), but when I went in for the regular grip, the grip wasn’t very firm, moved quickly, and before I knew it, it moved to a thumb clasp kind of thing.

I thought it ended there, but I think he was going to finish with a kind of finger clasp, so I missed the third step.

Now … this was in an informal setting, but I don’t really know this person. Which one of us exactly should have dictated the hand shake style, and how is that determined? Was the 2/3 a compromise, or did it leave both parties cold, as it wasn’t really my style, and apparently I didn’t really finish the shake the other guy was going for. I could go on …

What does everyone think? What are appropriate hand shakes, and when is the appropriate setting for the various types of shake?

Is this a male thing? I never even knew there were steps to handshakes. I thought it was more like grab hand for a few seconds and let go. Color me bewildered.

Yeah, it depends how much dap you’re going to get. It usually doesn’t go with the handshake, it goes straight for the clasp, then the finger, and then some sort of pulling away action. Also involved can be some pound.

Yeah, it sounds like I’m speaking in tongues.

Here’s the Wikipedia link. I’ll look for more (Urban Dictionary coming, I bet).

Yeah, here you go. By the way, the relevant ones are meanings 1, 2, 4, 5, and 17. The others…not so much.

Ha. “Dry anal powerslam”.

Some guys to the thumb thing, some don’t. You take your chances, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen the thumb clasp shake in a business situation.

How about the social hug? Do you do one over, one under? Both under? Both over? I tend to go both over, but that can get you nooged in the breastal area right quick.

I’ve got a friend who has started doing a strange forefinger up the wrist thing. Middle finger, ring, pinkie and thumb all go in the normal spots, but the pointer is extended up towards my wrist. The weird thing is it just showed up one day, and now it’s always around.

What is a thumb clasp?

One in which you interlock thumbs with the other person. Also known as a “soul” handshake or a “brother” handshake. Also commonly performed by athletes. Or just by two guys in general.

Thumb clasp

Ohhh. I didn’t know it had a name. Consider me enlightened.

Right arm over, left arm down. Right arm does the patting. Head tilted towards your left. If both huggers follow this pattern, never a conflict should occur.

As for the handshake thing, I hate the fancy ones… unless it’s with a buddy that would immediately know the entire process. If I’m being introduced for the first time, or meeting up with someone I know “a little,” it should be a standard right hand grip. Firm, without being painful, lasting about 2 or 3 heartbeats, and may contain a brief, single up-down motion. You will be judged by the content of your handshake (I hate a weak one, or a “not fully seated” one.)

For folks that I know well, but haven’t seen in a while, they might get a hug in combination with the shake, following the above hugging protocol.

I don’t shake good friends hands often, but if I’ve not seen them in a while, they get a handshake. If I see you regularly, and it’s not a formal occasion, you get a nod, and a “Hey.”

If I’m significantly taller than you, both over. If I’m close to your height, I tend to see where your arms are going and then match the approach. I try to avoid noodges in the breastal area unless they’re A)expected and B) appreciated.

So…how tall ARE you ? :smiley:


Slightly off topic, but I’d just like to add that nothing irritates me more than the handshake about half of females seem to have. They don’t shake your hand like a normal person, oh no: they delicately turn their hand up, placing their finger tips in your hand, as if you were to kiss their hand.

This would be lovely, except- you know - I’m a chick, too. I don’t get it.

For what it’s worth, when I shake anyone’s hand, I shake their hand. None of that delicate hooey.

I know guys that insist on slamming their hands into yours when you shake hands so that there is an impact in that area between your thumb and forefinger. It was really pleasant when a guy I work with did this and my arm was still healing from a wrist fracture. OUCH!

When I got up off the floor, he was very apologetic…

Somebody has a secret admirer…

On another related topic, where did the “clasp hands, touch shoulders, light hug with other arm usually with three light back pats to punctuate the ‘we’re not gay’” thing for guys come from?

I’ve used a handshake technique for some time which goes beyond the concept of two hands meeting in the middle. When the opportunity arises, I always attempt to initiate the handshake first by offering my hand slightly turned clockwise, so that my palm is facing slightly upwards in more of a “take my hand” gesture. This is intentionally invitational, and a cue which people interpret subconsciously. When I do take their hand, I will pivot my hand the other way, counterclockwise, to test their own feedback into the handshake. It is another subtle communication. How a person reacts to the twisting (whether they are firm or limp-wristed) is a good indicator of what they’re anticipating from the encounter. This is, of course, not a test of crushing gripping strength or torsional wrist power (as many self-compensatory males seem wont to do), but an unspoken way of innocently sizing someone up. It’s more of an “offer-acceptance” process than anything, and instantly helps build a rapport with someone because you are building their trust in you. Little body language exercises like this may seem trite, but I believe in it and I think it works to good effect.

Interestingly, I’ve read more than one anecdote stating that the handshake originated as a means of conveying to another that you came to the table bearing no weapons or ill intent. Granted, this wouldn’t be much of an good indicator that one person wasn’t hiding a weapon elsewhere, but I’m guessing that the ritual evolved more on principle rather than physical proof of fact.

I don’t go for the hooey unless I know the person really really well, but when I do, rest assured, I’m very delicate about it.

I knew a guy who did the finger snap thing with his handshakes. He was such a shyster…

I hate that method. It always throws me off.

I’ve decided to say fuck all to complicated hand shakes. Back in the 70’s and 80’s “the brother shake” was de rigeur. I mean the cross palm thumb grasp. I was young and hip and that was what people did. Then I graduated from college and interviewed for jobs. That’s where I became aware of the MAJOR LEAGUE ASSHOLE hand crushing technique. What the hell, I can crush the hand of an infant, and it doesn’t make me feel any better. I hope that you run up against Shaquille O’Neill and try your asshole “Firm handshake”. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that you should reciprocate in kind as to the pressure given in a handshake. If there is no job on the line, I now say, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you trying to crush my hand?”

The reason I’m against the complicated handshake is that when I was at my now closed favorite bar in Park City, they always did the knuckle bump. Now, I’m just a humble country bumpkin from Santa Barbara, but I’m old and I guess that I’m unaware of the culture of snowboard punks. It has always ended in the weird tango of unrequited handshakedom.

Save the complicated handshake etiquette for your circle of friends and default to the normal handshake. I should probably respond by poking their eyes with two fingers which is a standard Santa Barbara greeting, but everyone from around here knows to stick there hand sideways in front of their nose to defend.

I like the idea of the “grab the elbow” style, but it seems a little archaic (used by Rockefeller), and/or a little too … not really formal, but not really my kind of style. It’s out of place in today’s world. I don’t do involve a “hug” and this has only happened a couple of times, and just adds more awkwardness to the overly complicated hand shake, since they’re usually a tandem.

The “hand crush” isn’t something I do either. I go for firm, but not crushing. Another one that gets me is if the other guy “grabs” too early. Then he just gets your fingers, and it’s like the limp wristed hand shake like DiosaBellissima described. It’s kind of emasculating, and maybe would be a strategy to go with if you’re into psyching someone out.