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.