10 Handshakes To Avoid At Events

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Fist Bump - Handshakes to Avoid at Events

It was International Confex 2014 last week and if you were in attendance then the chances are that you will have shaken hands with a lot of people, as is best practice at conferences and events.


Shaking hands is said to have originated as a way of informing the other person that you didn’t have a sword or other weapon. I tend to take that as a given these days, but we can still read something into this short gesture.


Often, handshakes leave a lasting impression. What does your handshake say about you? Are you creating the right first impression? If you recognise yourself in the following list you might want to improve your handshake style!



1. The Bone Crusher



What they do
Intent on reducing your metacarpals to dust by grasping your hand with a vice-like grip.


What they mean
We’ve all encountered the particularly firm shake of a person at an event whose clear objective is to ensure that you know who’s boss. This handshake is naturally about intimidation and power, and may even subconsciously demoralise the other person. However, reciprocate it and you may find that your opponent will respond positively to you.




2. The Mason

What they do
Something a little bit out of the ordinary, possibly their thumb in slightly strange place such as pressed against the joint of your first knuckle.


What they mean
The purpose of a Masonic handshake is to, upon meeting, transfer information quickly that they are a Mason – and they’re finding out whether you are too.




3. The Hipster



What they do
Like a 21st century overt Mason, the hipster handshake could be one of a number of things, a fist bump, a high five, or anything slightly out of the ordinary that could unsettle you. You might encounter one at a tech conference or a East London bar.


What they mean
I’m so totally cool. Are you as cool as me? Nah didn’t think so.




4. The Dead Fish


What they do
Another that most of us are familiar with, a limp lifeless limb is put forward. Nothing stirs it, even when given a vigorous hello. He’s dead, Jim.


What they mean
Limp handshakes point to a lack of confidence or weakness. They might also be perceived as disrespectful. If you find yourself on the receiving end, take control by giving two firm shakes.





5. Mr Shakey Hands Man



What they do
Shake hands with you for an inordinate amount of time.


What they mean
Handshakes should last as long as it takes to say ‘1-Mississippi’, but it could be that your companion doesn’t know this. They could just really want to touch you a bit longer, or they just have a lot to say and don’t want to lose your attention. Or, you could have been caught out by early noughties Channel 4 TV show, Banzai…




6. The Finger Vice



What they do
You go to shake their hand but they don’t want all of it, just up to your knuckles and even then just a bit of a squeeze, leaving you feeling like a young debutante in a period drama.


What they mean
Meant to keep you at a distance, people with this handshake are often insecure and want to ensure a hierarchy. If they add a finger crush then they are adding a show of personal power, designed to create a fear of challenging them. Don’t be submissive, but it may be a wise move to be deferential to them.




7. The Teacupper


Image Credit

What they do
This handshake feels fairly normal except that the other person’s palm is slightly cupped so there is no palm-to-palm contact.


What they mean
This handshake can indicate that someone is hiding something from you, or they’re at least very shy. In either case, it might be a good idea to check that this person is giving you all the facts when doing business with them.



8. The Politician


What they do
When it comes to handshakes, politicians have a habit of not being content with just using one-hand. Often they’ll use their other hand to completely ‘hand-hug’, or perhaps team the handshake with an arm-grab or a touch on the shoulder.


What they mean
These people just really want to connect with you. Or sell you something. Or change your mind. One of those.




9. The Wet Fish


What they do
Often as the Dead Fish (above) but with the added joy of being sweaty or clammy. Urgh.


What they mean
This person has an over-active sympathetic nervous system, probably as a result of being nervous. As it’s not really their fault, don’t read too much into it, but instead be a nice guy and try to make them feel at ease.



10. The Tennis Player


Image Credit


What they do
The tennis arm-wrestle handshake has begun to take over from the traditional handshake on the professional circuit. It involves more of a swing, cupped palm and thumb grasp – and if possible a satisfying pop on connection.


What they mean
Has a more informal and sporty connotation, says something like ‘I respect you and the battle we just fought’ rather than ‘Let’s us now retire for orange squash’.



So how many do you recognise? And are you on there yourself even? Let us know!


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This post was written by Thom Feeney, Marketing Manager at Noodle Live