When I was a kid, every morning upon entering the schoolyard I shook hands with all my friends.
We also pressed the flesh in the evening, when saying goodbye.
This is an immemorial European ritual that I still miss in informal America.
In the US, after the initial squeeze, don’t expect any more skin games from anybody.
Hi, how are you doing?
This is all you are going to get from now on. A pity.
A handshake generally gives you an idea of the nature of the person you are meeting. The handshake can be pleasant or awkward.
To be frank, I will immediately like or dislike a person based on their handshake. It’s as simple as that.
I like a firm, palm-to-palm squeeze. Not too firm, not too soft… Just in between. I don’t want to feel intimidated by a steely grip… nor do I want to experience the awkwardness of a limp shake.
I want to feel, when shaking hand with somebody, that we are establishing a feeling of mutual trust. This is a person I can do business with…
A handshake therefore will generate positive energy or a feeling of uneasiness.
I highly dislike the handshake that briefly imprisons the tip of your fingers and releases them before you can squeeze back. The message here is clear: on my terms only. We will play this game by my rules. Period.
As far as I am concerned, I cannot play any game by unilateral rules. I need to be consulted first.
There is also the “keep at bay” handshake, mainly practiced by women meeting men.
The woman fully extends her arm to prevent the man from coming too near. That’s close enough bucko! This is a strictly a business meeting.
Besides, I want you to know right away that I will wash my hair tonight.
There is the “so sorry to see you go” handshake. Your interlocutor refuses to relinquish your digits. Always annoying and embarrassing… what is he (or she) thinking?
There is the “pumping handshake”. The man (generally it’s a man) shakes and pumps your hand for a few minutes. Here is a man who is not reading you properly and hopes to compensate the weakness of his arguments by a forceful physical demonstration.
Shake, shake. Pump, pump. Shake, shake.
Let go my hand you fool!
The initial handshake is important because it will determine how the rest of the ensuing meeting or relationship will go.
Depending on your squeezing skills, the evening will end with a bang or a whimper.
So, when shaking hands with somebody for the first time, keep in mind that this is a make or break deal and don’t mess it up.