By Mark Thomas Walters
A greeting and gesture of acknowledgment, handshakes provide an insight into the person whose hand you are shaking. Lots of us make use of them everyday so it is beneficial to take the time to understand how to perform and analyze them.
You should take hold of the other person's hand firmly when shaking hands. How powerful your grip is will expresses how confident you are. Make eye contact but maintain a distance of an arm's length. Shake the other person's hand 2 or 3 times, briefly pause, and then release your grip of their hand. Express a positive message through the use of your eyes, tone of voice and smile. That is a perfect handshake but you should be aware of some common variations that others use.
1) The Trust Me Shake. The person who initiates this is trying to convey that they are in control. They will take hold of your right hand using their right and will then position their left over the shake like a glove. They will want to show that you can trust them, yet instead it leads to a feeling of being overpowered.
2) The Ouch Shake. There is a crush on your fingers and an exaggerated up / down movement whilst they are grasping your hand. They are sending a message that they believe or know that they are stronger than you are and that they are going to control this situation. People who shake hands in this manner want to be seen as confident, though they usually give the impression of being aggressive.
3) The Butterfingers Shake. The people who perform this handshake have a dislike for handshakes and hope to get it over with as quickly as possible. You will find your hand is left hanging in mid air after they lightly grip it before letting go a second later. They want to keep you at a distance and probably favor avoidance of all intimacy with other people.
4) The Lifeless Shake. A handshake like this feels as though the other person has no feeling in their hand, as they just hang it in front of you and expect you to do all of the work. People who do this give others a weak impression of themselves. It expresses that they are not a threat but that you should not rely on them for anything important.
5) The Body-Basher Shake. The person you are greeting will seize your hand and pull you towards them. Their free hand will then likely be slapped over your shoulder or elbow. Unless you are already genuinely friendly with them be suspicious as they are trying too hard to be friendly with you.
Those are the main variations on the ideal handshake and knowing about them, and being able to recognize them when meeting people, allows you to learn about them before they have even said a word.
Still, keep in mind that a handshake is not the be all and end all of a person's personality, and that it should form part of your assessment of someone, not the entirety of it.
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