Body Language in a Handshake


Handshakes are gestures of acknowledgement and greeting that provide important clues about the other person. Recognise these signs and put your own best hand forward.

When you shake hands, grasp the hand firmly. The power of your grip will convey your confidence. Make eye contact but keep handshake an arm’s distance away.Shake the other person’s hand a couple of times, pause briefly, then drop the hand. Use your smile, eyes and tone of voice to convey a positive message. Observe the shake you are receiving. What can it tell you about the other person?

Different Types of Handshakes

The In-Control Shake : The initiator wants to convey a message of being in control. He’ll grab your hand with his right and place his left over the shake like a glove. He’ll want to show you he’s trustworthy but you’ll feel overpowered and probably uncomfortable.

The Bone-Crushing Shake : If he doesn’t pull your arm out of its socket, he’ll definitely break your fingers! You’re right to be on your guard. He’s sending a message: “I’m stronger than you. I will control.” People who shake like this want to be seen as confident but usually come across as aggressive. Smile broadly and offer you own firm-handed shake.

The Butterfingers Shake : This person probably has a dislike for shaking hands and wants to get it over quickly. She’ll grip your fingers lightly, then let go, leaving your hand hanging in mid-air. She wants to keep you at a distance and probably avoids intimacy with others.

The Lifeless Shake : It’s that limp, cold shake that leaves you wondering what went wrong. Chill out – it’s not you, it’s the other guy and he’s creating a weak impression of himself. He says: “I’m lifeless and indifferent. Leave me alone.” Just shake and let go, don’t be tempted to offer a bone-crusher of your own!

The Body-Basher Shake : He’ll grab your hand in a dominant squeeze and pull your in to his personal space. Then he’ll slap his left hand over your wrist, elbow or shoulder with a blow that will send you rocking. It’s known as the ‘manipulation shake’ and you’re wise to be suspicious. If you don’t share emotional bonds with the person, beware. He may have a few tricks up his sleeve!

The Arrogant Shake : The arrogant shake is often used intentionally to undermine your sense of security. The person offers a stiff, flat hand with the palm facing down. The message is clear: “I’m in charge here, back off!” There’s no easy way to disarm this handshake as you’re forced to shake with your palm facing up which is submissive.

Watch the body language of the people you communicate with. When used in conjunction with the handshake messages, body language can tell you so much about the other person. You should easily be able to tell if they are listening to you, if they feel threatened by you or are annoyed. Also, use body language to your advantage to make yourself seem confident, approachable and trustworthy. If you give off negative messages, chances are that others will pick up on it too..

One thought on “Body Language in a Handshake

  1. Pingback: How to Communicate with a Handshake — Ian's Messy Desk

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