What does your handshake say?

A couple of weeks ago I heard a podcast where The Public Speaker was talking about shaking hands and the proper way to do so. One thing I found interesting was what she had to say about types of handshakes and what they mean. I did a little more reading on the subject this week.

HandshakeAccording to The Public Speaker there are different ways to shake hands based on country and culture. In the US we like a firm handshake that neither crushes the hand nor feels like a limp noodle. There are variations as to how long you should linger holding hands based on many unspoken cues. There is also meaning in the way you hold your hand during the shake. Humorously, I have read that the sandwich, or two-handed handshake should be reserved for politicians and clergy. Maybe that is why I have a tendency to shake with two hands.

When one person turns their hand palm down during the shake that indicates they are the dominant one. They communicate that they are in charge. The one whose’ palm is face up is supposed to be the submissive one. Ideally you would see yourselves as equals and have your palms perpendicular to the floor.

Last week we met a man who shook my wife’s hand first and intentionally turned her hand palm down. He was indicating that he was “at her service.” When he shook my hand he kept our palms as equals.

After doing all this reading, I had a funny thing happen to me. There is a lady at church that I have been wanting to talk with, but did not take the time to call her. I figured I would just see her at church. I was pleased to walk into church 15 minutes early the other day and see her. As I approached her she started walking towards me with her arm outstretched for a handshake. Her palm was down. That meant nothing to me a couple of weeks ago, but this time it did. She was one of my teachers in college. Though I see us as equals, I needed to talk with her about an area of her expertise. That pronounced the fact that she was in charge of the conversation.

This is just something I would have never noticed before.

6 thoughts on “What does your handshake say?”

  1. What are your thoughts on the “communal handshake” during worship services?
    I believe that it is responsible for the exchange of many germs and viruses which then wreak havoc on some of us. I carry hand sanitizer whick I use as discreetly as possible
    following the “handshake time”. Then, at the end of the service, we are told to “join hands across the aisles” and sing the closing song together. Again, I can only think of how soon I can use my hand sanitizer. Am I the only one who thinks this way? I am currently battling a bout of bronchitis following a ferocious sore throat. I feel sure I got it at church. I have become almost “Howard Hughes” like in my quest to open and close doors without actually touching them. I avoid railings at all cost. Just wondered if anyone else thought about handshakes like I do.

    1. I think each person has to know their bodies and needs. I shake hands with everyone and the only illness I have had in several years was a stomach bug I got from eating. I have lived in a third world country that is more insistent on handshaking than the US.

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with using hand sanitizer after shaking hands. Especially if you are prone to illness.

  2. Thanks for listening to the show.

    Keep in mind that the position of the hand doesn’t ALWAYS mean those things, sometimes it just means that’s the position that is more comfortable. (A spade is sometimes just a spade!)…

    Oh, and I noticed I’m not on your blogroll…:-(

    1. Oh, I realize that sometimes a spade is just a spade, but that would be too boring. I love reading between the lines. If for no other reason than to give myself a reason to smirk and have other people wonder what I am thinking.

      Ah, the blogroll. I have not updated that in quite some time. Maybe I will do so. I can’t possibly link to every podcast I listen to. There is not enough space on the site to link to them all. 🙂

  3. yeah… well, now I know the secret handshake. Wait. no I don’t. But this was interesting though. Reminds of something I read about yawning… if you are the dominant one, you’ll yawn first and those that are submissive will yawn accordingly, or those that are equal will not yawn.

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