Non Verbal Behavioral Tip #8. The way you shake

Posted on by in Mike's Morning Missives

“Mike, how can you make such a simple thing like shaking hands sound so complicated?”

I can’t. Shaking hands is as simple as it gets, but too many people still get this wrong and as a result, can easily start a relationship off on the wrong foot.

Classify today’s tip under “Obnoxiously Obvious,” and then pay attention.

Here are nine possible scenarios.

    1. Sweaty palms:

This can be a sign of nervousness. The fact that you are nervous is not the issue. What you don’t want is the person who you are shaking hands with to allow their mind to wander away from you and your name by thinking, “What’s with this guy’s hand?”

  1. Dead fish:

This one is more common than you think. To me it portrays a clear sign of disinterest or at the very best, a lack of self-esteem. I suppose one is not better than the others. Don’t do it.

  1. Brush off:

This handshake type is starts and ends before you have a chance to know what just happened. A quick grab and release that feels like your hand being shoved aside. This maneuver infers that you are not a very important person to me.

  1. The two handed handshake:

I call this the Political shakedown since it is often used by those in, yes, politics. It is supposed to indicate warmth, honesty, friendliness and trust but I am not a big fan of this “shake.” Rumor has it that if the second hand remains in place, it is well intended. If the left hand goes up your wrist, your arms or your elbow, the person is trying to get something from you.

  1. Controller:

This might be recognized as the “Trump-Pull.” You feel your hand being pulled toward the person or strongly guided in a different direction, perhaps towards a chair. People who do this are controllers. (Surprised?) This means they want to dominate any inanimate or animate object in the room (and that would include you).

  1. Finger Vice:

This can sometimes happen by mistake when the person closes prior to being in proper position. This can be interpreted as a sign of insecurity. If you find your fingers being “crushed” in the process they showing a sign of personal power, which may be designed to keep you at a distance. When somebody grabs my fingers I try to release quickly with the statement, “Now, let’s try this again.” True story.

  1. Bone Crusher:

This is probably the closest to my handshake but by no means do I try to bring tears to your eyes. I grab firmly with eye contact and three shakes before releasing. Firm is the operative word and not bone crushing. This is my way of saying I am here, interested and at your service. I am not here to hurt you or show you how strong a 68 year-old geezer can be.

  1. The Top-Handed Shake:

This is when the hand shaker flips your hand 90 degrees ending up on top of your hand. I suppose this is to display a sign of superiority but I must admit, I can’t remember when I last was the recipient of this tactic. To me, this looks and feels downright dumb.

  1. The Pusher:

While this person shakes your hand, he/she extends their arm so that you can’t get close to them. I knew a guy who did this regularly and I always wanted to tell him how stupid it looked. I suppose it is their way of saying, “Keep your distance until I say so.” Not very amicable if you ask me.

I suppose you still don’t know how to shake somebody’s hand effectively but you now know nine ways not to do it.


Mike MarchevMike presents a business-building webinar on the third Thursday of every month sponsored by AmaWaterways. To receive a complimentary invitation send Mike an email with the phrase “AmaWaterways” in the Subject Box. You will also receive a link to the recorded version.

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