Types Of Handshakes

Types Of Handshakes

A handshake is a universal gesture used for greetings and farewells in various cultures around the world. It involves clasping hands with another person and is often accompanied by a brief up and down movement. Handshakes can convey different meanings and create an impression based on the style and type of handshake used.

In this article, we will explore the different types of handshakes, their variations, and their significance in different contexts. Whether you’re in a professional setting or a social gathering, understanding the various types of handshakes can help you navigate these situations with confidence.

Key Takeaways:

  • Handshakes are a universal greeting and farewell gesture.
  • They can convey different meanings and impressions.
  • The style and type of handshake used can vary.
  • Understanding handshakes can help navigate professional and social settings.
  • Stay tuned to learn about the different types of handshakes and their implications.

Importance of Handshakes for First Impressions

Handshakes are a valuable communication tool for making a first impression. They signify a greeting and help inspire feelings of trust and intimacy. A well-executed handshake can leave a lasting impression on others, influencing their perception of your character and credibility.

Knowing when to shake hands and how to do it correctly is essential for effectively using this gesture. Here is a guide to handshake types, various handshake techniques, handshake gestures, types of greetings with handshakes, and handshake etiquette that can help you make a positive first impression:

  • Guide to Handshake Types: Familiarize yourself with different types of handshakes, such as the traditional handshake, fist bump, or elbow bump.
  • Various Handshake Techniques: Learn different techniques, like the single-handed shake, double-handed shake, or hand-over-hand shake, and understand when and how to use them appropriately.
  • Handshake Gestures: Be mindful of specific gestures that can accompany a handshake, such as a pat on the back or a hand-on-shoulder gesture, and adapt them based on cultural norms and comfort levels.
  • Types of Greetings with Handshakes: Explore how handshakes can be combined with other forms of greetings, such as a verbal greeting or a nod of the head, to convey respect and engagement.
  • Handshake Etiquette: Master the art of proper handshake etiquette, including factors like firmness of grip, duration of handshake, and maintaining appropriate eye contact. Pay attention to non-verbal cues to ensure a comfortable and respectful interaction.

By following these guidelines, you can confidently approach handshakes, knowing that you are presenting yourself as a professional and considerate individual.

Handshake Type Description
Traditional Handshake A classic handshake involving a firm grip and a slight up-and-down movement. It exudes professionalism and respect.
Fist Bump A casual and friendly alternative to the traditional handshake, often used in informal settings or with close acquaintances.
Elbow Bump A touch-free alternative to handshakes, commonly used during situations when physical contact is discouraged, such as during illness outbreaks.
Hand-Over-Hand Shake A more intimate and warm gesture involving one hand placed over the other person’s hand during the handshake, indicating closeness or familiarity.

Remember that a handshake is not just a simple act of touching hands; it is a powerful tool for creating meaningful connections and leaving a positive impression. By mastering different handshake techniques, gestures, and following proper etiquette, you can make a lasting impact in both professional and social interactions.

Different Types of Handshakes and Their Meanings

Handshakes come in various types, each with its own unique meaning and interpretation. Understanding these different types of handshakes can provide valuable insights into a person’s intentions, personality traits, and demeanor.

Dominant Handshake

A dominant handshake involves placing your palm downward when shaking hands. This type of handshake signifies a desire for dominance or control. It is often used to assert authority or establish power dynamics in professional or competitive settings.

Bone Crusher Handshake

A bone crusher handshake is characterized by an excessively strong grip and firm squeezing of the other person’s hand. This type of handshake can be seen as aggressive and intimidating. It may reveal the person’s assertiveness, but it can also create discomfort or pain for the recipient.

Double-Handed Handshake

The double-handed handshake involves using both hands to grasp the other person’s hand firmly. This handshake is often employed to convey warmth, trust, and sincerity. However, it can also be perceived as overly familiar or intimate, especially when used with someone you have just met.

Limp Fish Handshake

A limp fish handshake is characterized by a weak and loose grasp, lacking strength or firmness. It often indicates nervousness, lack of confidence, or disinterest. This type of handshake may leave the impression that the person is indifferent or unengaged.

Clammy-Handed Handshake

A clammy-handed handshake refers to a handshake where the person’s hand feels damp or sweaty. It may be a result of anxiety, nervousness, or a medical condition. A clammy handshake can potentially indicate unease or discomfort in social interactions.

Understanding these different types of handshakes can help you interpret the intentions and personality traits of the person you are shaking hands with. It is essential to be attentive to these nuances, as handshakes play a significant role in establishing connections and making first impressions.

Handshakes and Body Language

Handshakes are not just about the physical act of shaking hands, but also about the accompanying body language. Observing body language cues during a handshake is essential for understanding the underlying message being conveyed.

One important aspect to consider is the handshake grip. The way you grip the other person’s hand can communicate different levels of confidence and assertiveness. A firm grip signifies confidence, while a weak grip may indicate nervousness or lack of self-assurance.

Another crucial element to pay attention to is eye contact. Maintaining eye contact during a handshake shows attentiveness and sincerity. It demonstrates that you are fully present and engaged in the interaction, fostering a sense of trust and connection.

Additionally, personal space is an important consideration. Respect the other person’s boundaries and maintain an appropriate distance during the handshake. Invading personal space can make the other person feel uncomfortable or threatened, while standing too far away can create a sense of detachment.

Body Language Cues

Different body language cues can provide insights into the intentions and attitudes of the person you are shaking hands with.

For example, a person who maintains steady eye contact and a firm grip during a handshake may convey confidence and assertiveness. On the other hand, someone who avoids eye contact or has a weak grip might be signaling shyness or lack of self-assurance.

By paying attention to these body language cues, you can gain valuable insights into the dynamics of the interaction and adjust your own behavior accordingly. Understanding the nonverbal signals exchanged during a handshake can help you navigate social and professional situations with greater awareness and effectiveness.

Body Language Cue Meaning
Firm handshake grip Confidence, assertiveness
Weak handshake grip Nervousness, lack of confidence
Maintaining eye contact Attentiveness, sincerity
Avoiding eye contact Shyness, lack of self-assurance
Maintaining appropriate personal space Respect, comfort

Handshake Faux Pas to Avoid

While knowing how to shake hands correctly is important, it is equally crucial to be aware of common handshake faux pas to avoid. Making these handshaking mistakes can create a negative impression and hinder successful interactions. To ensure you make a positive impact with your handshake, steer clear of the following blunders:

  1. Bad handshakes: Such as the dominant handshake, bone crusher handshake, and limp fish handshake.
  2. Double-handed handshake: Avoid using this gesture with acquaintances or strangers, as it can be seen as overly personal.
  3. Overly close handshakes: Respect personal space and avoid invading someone’s comfort zone.
  4. Using fingers-only: For a proper handshake, grasp the other person’s hand firmly but gently, engaging the entire hand.
  5. Clammy-handed handshake: Ensure your hands are dry and avoid sweaty palms, as it can make others uncomfortable.
  6. Lack of eye contact: Maintain eye contact during a handshake to convey confidence and attentiveness.
  7. Extended handshakes: Keep the duration of the handshake brief and avoid holding on for too long, as it can be awkward.

By understanding these handshake no-nos and adhering to proper handshaking etiquette, you can ensure that your handshake leaves a positive and lasting impression.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

“A good handshake is like a well-choreographed dance, with each participant playing their part. It’s important to assess the situation and select an appropriate handshake style that matches the context. Avoiding these common mistakes will help you establish a sense of confidence, professionalism, and respect in your interactions.”

Adjusting Handshakes in Different Situations

Handshakes, a common gesture of greeting and connection, can be affected by specific situations, such as illness outbreaks like the COVID-19 pandemic. During times like these, it is important to prioritize health and safety while still maintaining social etiquette. Here are some adjustments and alternatives to consider:

No-Handshake Zones

In areas where there is a high risk of illness transmission, designated “no-handshake zones” may be established. These zones encourage individuals to avoid physical contact and seek alternative methods of greeting and connection.

Handshakes During Illness Outbreaks

When illness outbreaks occur, it may be necessary to adjust traditional handshakes or even avoid them altogether to minimize the risk of spreading germs. Following proper hand hygiene practices is crucial, including frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. These simple actions can help reduce the transmission of pathogens.

Handshake Alternatives

When physical contact is not advised, there are alternative greetings that can be used as a substitute for handshakes. Fist bumps and elbow bumps are popular alternatives that maintain a degree of personal connection while minimizing direct physical contact. These gestures can show respect, camaraderie, and acknowledgement without compromising safety.

Adjusting handshakes in different situations ensures that we can adapt to changing circumstances while still expressing respect and connection. By being mindful of no-handshake zones, practicing good hand hygiene, and embracing alternative greetings, we can navigate social interactions safely during illness outbreaks.


Effective handshaking is essential for making a good impression in various settings. By understanding how to shake hands correctly and being aware of the different types of handshakes, you can convey trust, confidence, and openness to others.

Pay attention to body language cues during a handshake, such as maintaining appropriate distance, making eye contact, and using a firm but gentle grip. Avoid common handshake mistakes, including dominant handshakes, bone crusher handshakes, and limp fish handshakes, as they can create a negative impression.

Additionally, adapt your handshakes in different situations. During illness outbreaks, consider alternatives to handshakes, such as fist or elbow bumps, to promote safety. Remember, a firm, confident, and well-timed handshake can leave a lasting impression and help you establish strong connections with others.


What are the different types of handshakes and their meanings?

The different types of handshakes include dominant handshake, bone crusher handshake, double-handed handshake, limp fish handshake, and clammy-handed handshake. Each conveys different meanings and personality traits.

Why are handshakes important for first impressions?

Handshakes are important for first impressions because they can convey trust, confidence, and openness. They help inspire feelings of trust and intimacy, making them a valuable communication tool.

How does body language play a role in handshakes?

Body language cues during a handshake, such as maintaining personal space, making eye contact, and using an appropriate grip, are essential for understanding the underlying message being conveyed.

What are some common handshake mistakes to avoid?

Common handshake mistakes to avoid include using a dominant handshake, bone crusher handshake, double-handed handshake with acquaintances or strangers, having a limp fish handshake, avoiding eye contact, and extending handshakes.

How should handshakes be adjusted in different situations?

Handshakes can be adjusted in different situations, such as during illness outbreaks, by following good hand hygiene practices and using alternatives like fist or elbow bumps when physical contact is not advised.

What is the importance of handshakes in creating a good impression?

Handshakes are important in creating a good impression because they can help establish strong connections with others, convey trust and confidence, and leave a lasting impression when done correctly.

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