It's thought that the handshake originated as a greeting
when a weapon would traditionally be held in the dominant,
usually right, hand, so it has become a tradition to show
that we are greeting someone without weapons by shaking with
the right hand.
In some cultures, where the left hand is used for personal
hygene, it is considered rude or insulting to offer a handshake
with your left hand.
Handshaking is perhaps the most widely recognised of greetings
worldwide, in both Western and non-Western societies. While on the surface a
handshake appears to be a warm, friendly gesture, this can be a superficial
reading. It's important to recognise the different meanings of handshakes in
different situations, and to be able to use them to your advantage.
Offering a Handshake
Cultural norms dictate that the person of higher standing,
such as a teacher or elder, should initiate a handshake as opposed to the person
of a lower social standing. If you're on roughly equal terms with a person,
in terms of age and job position, offering a handshake is a way of portraying
yourself as a confident person, and you won't be caught off guard if the other
person decides to initiate one.
What famous handshakes can tell us...
If you watch world leaders shaking hands, pay attention
to who looks the most confident and relaxed in the situation. As a rule, standing
on the left in photographs (as in the one on this page) can give a better
impression than standing on the left, where you could appear submissive to
your counterpart. It also enables you to get the upper hand of the handshake
in the photograph.
Here, we'll deconstruct the handshake and look at it from
a number of viewpoints.
Getting the pressure in a handshake is important as the
handshake itself. Businesspeople, particularly the males the species, often
squeeze harder if they're trying to clench a deal, show confidence over their
counterpart or give a generally warm greeting. But the crucial thing to remember
in terms of pressure is not to squeeze hard in all situations; a firm handshake
(without crushing the other person's hand) shows confidence and is preferable
over a limp handshake, which can indicate to someone that you're not interested
in building rapport with them and want to escape the greeting ritual as soon
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