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How To Give a Good Handshake

Updated on October 13, 2015

What is so important about a handshake? It’s nothing really terribly complicated, until it goes bad. Being on the receiving end of a rotten handshake is always unpleasant and awkward. The good news is it’s easily fixable.

A brief history

At the ripe young age of 5 years old, my father introduced me to a friend of his. Far from being a timid child, I said hello and smiled. It was at this moment that my father decided he would teach his only daughter and youngest of three children how to properly execute a hand shake.

This is one of only a handful of memories I have of my father and certainly one of the earliest. But it remains one of the most crystal clear memories I have from that age. I’m not terribly certain why I chose to allow this memory to set up permanent residence in my brain especially when so many other valuable bits of information have been lost. In any case that is what happened and there it remains.

Are you one of them

For those of you who have never really given much thought to the process of the hand shake, I say you probably fall firmly into one of two categories.

1. Those that naturally provide an adequate handshake


2. Those that butcher the process recklessly and repeatedly

*A short note to all of those that fall into category 2, when meeting someone for the first time there are few things more jarring, distracting and unpleasant than being greeted by an awful handshake.

How will I know

If you are unsure what category you fall into or believe you deliver adequate handshake material, here are 5 signs of a bad handshake.

  1. Offering just the fingertips (in a weird kiss the back of my hand sort of way)
  2. Limp hand or wrist of any kind
  3. Overly firm, hard or finger crushing (it is not a strong man contest)
  4. Holding and shaking for too long
  5. Hot wet sweaty hands


Bring your A game

Ok so now that we’ve gone over some things not to do, let’s go over some things to do. It’s actually quite simple really, not much to it at all. I’ll break it down.

  1. Offer your hand with all four fingers extended straight out and together, pointed toward your intended target, the thumb should be slightly raised.
  2. Continue the forward motion until the webbing between your thumb and forefinger fully connect with the webbing of the other participant.
  3. The inside of your hands should be in full contact (avoid collapsing the plain of your hand resulting in and air pocket)
  4. Curl the ends of your fingers in to complete the hand embrace. Employ comfortable pressure.
  5. The shake should be subtle (if there is proper hand connection a shake should almost be unnecessary)

Bonus #6: Make eye contact and smile

Simple truths

I know all of that seems so simple it’s almost silly. But the unfortunate truth is that for every one good hand shake we experience in our lives we have received several bad ones. This will continue to be the case unless we get the message out there.

This is why I have taken the time to write this. I was fortunate enough to have actually received instruction on the matter at a very young age. Even more fortunate to have remember and employed the technique all my life. Something, as a woman, I am sure I probably could have gone my whole life without ever having been taught.

Share the knowledge

To the ladies out there, contrary to popular belief you are not exempt from performing a proper handshake based solely on your gender.

To all the daddies and mommies, if you have it down, add it to the running curriculum you have in your head of things to teach your children (both boys and girls)

To all those who’ve mastered it but have yet to procreate, take the time to help those in need. Your siblings, your partners, your parents, even your coworkers. If you cannot be there in person to demonstrate, feel free so share the link to this page with them. I promise you, it is to the benefit of us all.


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    • GypsyFootedWoman profile image

      GypsyFootedWoman 5 years ago

      That is the thing about handshakes you don't think much of them until you get a bad one, then you are all thrown off your game thinking "What the H just happened to my hand?"

      Thanks for taking the time to read my hub and comment Levertis and Christy.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 5 years ago from Southern Clime

      Writing subjects are limitless! I never thought about writing on the quality of a handshake. I love this article. I hate clammy hands, but I endure them every now and then. People have held my hand for two or three minutes after greeting. I do not like it, and am always conscious of it. Now, I just step aside and pull free without appearing rude.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You are quite right about the importance of handshakes. I remember I learned that in an employment seminar. Thanks for the great information!