Types of handshakes

There are 5 basic types of handshakes that most of us have experienced.  Perhaps you can think of others.

Knuckle Cruncher

This type of person is earnest but nervous.  While meaning to convey warmth through a tight grip of your hand, the person only causes you pain.  The impression created is definitely that of a person who lacks sensitivity.

Dead Fish Handshaker

This type of person, who places a limp, lifeless hand in yours, is sending a negative message. While the knuckle cruncher hurts you, at least there is a desire to express a real feeling.  You are left with the impression of this person having a lackluster personality.


This handshake is overly eager but also insecure.  This person doesn’t know when to quit, almost as if stalling because of not knowing what to do next.  They keep on vigorously pumping your hand up and down—and with it your entire arm.  You may not feel pain but you certainly feel foolish.

Sanitary Handshaker

This person will barely put three or four fingers in your hand—and then withdraw them quickly, almost as if afraid of catching a dread disease.  They appear timid and sheepish.

Condolence Handshaker

This is the person who comes across as too familiar, clasping your right arm or hand, and perhaps attempting to hug you.  This behavior may be appreciated at a funeral, but it comes across as condescending and inappropriate.

Proper Handshaking

The protocol for handshaking is simple to learn.  Here is what you should do: Walk up to the person you want to meet.  Look into their eyes, smile, and extend you hand.  Offer a warm, firm, palm-to-palm handshake.

When you proffer your hand to a stranger or a distant acquaintance, simultaneously say, “My name is......( use both first and last names ).  This way you eliminate the awkward moment of the forgotten name.  The person being greeted is often relieved at being reminded, and will usually respond with their full name, which will in turn relieve you.

Both men and women should rise to shake hands.  Rising is a compliment; it shows energy and eagerness to connect.

Initiating a proper handshake will make an incredibly positive impression.  You will be perceived as a person who is knowledgeable, possesses excellent social skills, and has leadership capabilities.

An excellent handshake shows your charm and self-confidence.  It becomes an integral part of your style.

“Any person who has charm and some confidence can move in and through societies ranging from the most privileged to the most needy.  Style allows the person to appear neither inferior in one location nor superior in the other.” - Maya Angelou... (noted poet, educator, and best-selling author)

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