There are cultures in this world where men don’t shake hands. This article is based on me being an American male living in America. In the US, we shake hands. Actually, everyone shakes hands with everyone. Women shake hands. Boys and girls shake hands, mainly with adults. We are a culture of hand shakers, and although they seem to be just a formal way to meet, greet, agree, and say goodbye, they can tell quite a bit about you and the other person.
As a man, you have to have a good firm handshake. It doesn’t matter if you are a timid tree hugger. And it doesn’t matter if you are old or young. You are a man, and men should have a good solid handshake.
SOMEBODY TAUGHT YOU HOW TO SHAKE HANDS
At some point in your life, somebody taught you how to shake hands. If you were lucky, you had your father or uncle or even an older brother teach you how to do it right. They talked about it, showed you how, and made you shake their hands to make sure you got the concept. Not every guy was taught that way.
Some guys just started thinking about it maybe when some other guy shook their hand really strong, and it hurt a little. It made them think, “I need to squeeze harder, so my hand won’t hurt when I shake.” Maybe they thought of how that guy’s strong handshake made them feel about that dude and wanted the same for themselves.
Other less fortunate guys learned their handshake from a more timid family member/s while shaking hands for the first time ever at a funeral or family wedding when they were like eleven or twelve. They just figured that that is how you shake hands, so that’s how they now do it.
Then there are the even less fortunate who had to learn how to shake hands the hard way, by a girl telling them. Whatever the age, they shook hands with a girl or older woman, and she commented on his weak handshake. It can be fairly devastating for a guy to be told his handshake is soft by a female, but it can also be a powerful learning opportunity for him too. I have seen this happen a couple of times and its awkward for the guy, but most of them learn to firm their shit up after that, so that’s a major plus.
If you are reading this and wondering what the hell I’m talking about, then you are in the group of guys that have NEVER learned how to shake hands. To that, I say “keep reading”. Your manhood is about to improve a little.
WHAT A HANDSHAKE SAYS ABOUT YOU
I’m a pretty social guy, so I shake hands often. It’s surprising to me how often I still come across guys with bad handshakes. I mean, it’s not the end of the world or anything, but it does say some things about them. We can’t help it either as handshakes are a form a body language. And we all know that language well. Unlike a second culture language, we don’t have to learn body language. We have all learned it and have been using it to communicate since we were babies.
1. FIRMNESS – This could be the biggest aspect of the handshake. The firmness of a handshake should be in the middle somewhere. I mean, just putting your hand out with barely a squeeze to it is really wimpy. Turning your handshake into a workout is bad too. You don’t want to try to inflict pain on the other person. Just a nice firm and neutral grip are what you want. Occasionally, you will shake hands with a guy who feels like he’s handing you a fish. Don’t try to squeeze the guts out of it. And there’s the guy who tries to put your hand in a vise. You may have to squeeze tighter for this guys to protect your bones. Try to adjust your firmness with his/hers. If you are a good handshaker, you’ll naturally adjust your firmness to the other person’s. This will silently tell them you are in control of yourself, compromising, and seeking neutral or mutual respect. This also tells the other person less about you than what their handshake told you about them.
2. The angle of your hand – A handshake is one of the first things two guys do to establish dominance. Whether you are paying attention or not, dominance is being negotiated almost constantly. You dominating or being dominated may not matter to you at all. That’s totally cool, but it may be interesting for you to know how your handshake is representing your position. It’s as easy as this. The guy whose palm is pointing more downward is the more dominant one. And the guy with his palm upward is being submissive. Have you heard the expression “giving the upper hand”? Well, this is where it comes from. Depending on your personality, you may want to primarily shake hands with either your palm upward or palm downward, and that’s perfectly ok. Personally, I like to shake hands where both palms are facing to the side. This is a neutral position which means both guys are giving mutual respect to each other. I like giving this type of handshake for two reasons. One is, it tells the other guy that you are giving him respect, so he will like you more and feel more at ease with you. The other thing is a neutral handshake, again, gives less away about who you are or what your intentions are.
3. The body’s position during the handshake – I think a good handshake is done when you square your body up with the other person. Having your shoulders squared up to the other’s hand shows you are engaged and respectful to the physical interaction. Offering your hand from a side angle is disrespectful and non-caring, and can give the other person an initial negative opinion of you. You may want to convey this, and if you do, then that’s ok. The other person and those around you won’t consider it a good handshake though. A squared off body to a handshake also gives you more control over a potentially aggressive handshake as well. There are guys who like to pull you into them a little when shaking or use their other hand to grab you on your shoulder or elbow or hand. These added forms of dominance are harder to achieve when your body is in a neutral squared position behind your shaking hand.
4. The length of time and eye contact – Ever had that guy who shook hands with you and didn’t let go? Yea that sucks. Don’t be that guy. Shaking hands for too long show you are trying to dominate and control the other person. I’ve noticed that many clergymen like to do this. It makes sense as they usually want the extended attention of others because they feel they have something really important to express. Releasing the handshake too soon isn’t great either, but it’s not nearly as bad as the hand holders just described. A good handshake gives both parties time to feel the firmness and shake. Not too soon, and certainly not too long, makes for a nice, neutral but telling handshake.
Eye contact is an across the board good idea regardless of any situation, and the handshake is no exception. Finding the hand for the shake, and then a quick look up to make eye contact completes the reading process of the handshake. Failing to make eye contact can say you are not secure, are hiding something, are scared, socially awkward, or are not confident. You don’t want to show any of this, even if you are some of them. Body language isn’t something you have to learn, but you can learn to have a good manly handshake.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of man you are. You can be a very soft spoken, non-violent, non-aggressive male who lets cockroaches go free and doesn’t swear. That’s perfectly ok. Be who you are. But you are still a man. And you should shake hands well. It won’t and can’t hurt. And if you are the big aggressive man type, then congratulations. You are bigger and stronger than everybody. Now, quit hurting everyone with your hand and learn to give a nice, non-offensive handshake. You may find that people will like and respect you better.