Meanings of Different Types of Handshake


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One thing I’ve learned while doing business in Real Estate is you can tell a lot about someones character simply by how they shake your hand. Extroverts have firm confident grips while shy people and neurotics tend to shake hands softly and gently. There are many types of handshakes you will come across every day, here are a few:

Hand Hug: The handhug is popular with politicians, and is when they choose to wrap your hand with their left hand creating this warm cocoon protecting your hand. When done to the right person, they are perceived as being warm, friendly, trustworthy and honest, and sometimes this handshake is reciprocated creating a pile of 4 hands. However, this type of handshake is only done genuinely with people who share close bonds, as similar to hugs, this handshake is seen as an invasion of intimacy when done by people who have just met. On that same note, you will also see some people using their left hand to grasp the other persons forearm, elbow, bicep and even shoulder while shaking hands. In reality, we stretch out our arms to shake hands to keep people out of our personal space and protect our body. The higher up the arm a person is seen putting their left hand, the closer the bond those two people share (or at least the person doing the double hander handshake believes they do, or wants to portray they do, like in many politicians cases).

Dominator Handshake: As I wrote in my Palms and Thumbs article, someone who displays their palm downwards shows a sign of authority or superiority. Every now and again you’ll notice someone who likes to shake hands while their hand is on top and their palm is facing the ground. It is useful to know about this handshake as it may come in handy in certain situations like letting your boss feel powerful by ‘submitting’ to his dominance, or if you are apologizing about something, letting someone have their palm on top will make them feel in control of the situation.

Cold and Clammy: Some of you might have experienced this handshake before, where the person shaking your hand has a cold sweaty hand. Sometimes this is associated with weak characters or a lack of energy used by passive or apathetic people. More commonly, this handshake can be found in nervous people whose blood flows away from the cells below the palm (or dermis) and is diverted to the arm and leg muscles, just like with our ancestors who needed the extra blood in these places to fight their enemies or run away in nervous/dangerous situations. Also take into consideration that 1 in 20 people suffer from Hyperhydrosis, which is a condition that creates severe sweating.

Crusher: The overly aggressive personality types favorite handshake because they think it displays confidence and power. This is the handshake that makes your knuckles grind each other when shaking, and leaves your hand in numbing pain afterwards so that you dread the moment you have to shake their hand goodbye again. Depending on the pressure, this handshake is also used by physically weaker individuals who desire to dominate occasionally out of feelings of weakness or fear that they will be dominated by others if they don’t do it first.

Queens Fingertips: This is quite common in male-female encounters. As women need more personal space than men, they will stretch out their hand (sometimes in an awkward position) from a distance allowing the other person to barely grasp the two or three fingers without a good grip of the hand. It is also used by individuals who feel superior to the other person, e.g: The Queen, therefore stretching out their hands with their palms downwards (a sign of authority/superiority) and only allowing a hold of the fingers.

KeepBack: Another type of handshake used by aggressive types. The main purpose of this handshake is to keep you at a distance and away from the persons personal space as they may feel threatened – the person will usually lean forward or balance on one foot to achieve needed distance. It can also be common to find this type of handshake amongst people who were raised in country/rural areas as the personal space for people in such areas is much larger than the personal space needed for individuals raised in crowded cities.

Yank and Pull: This handshake is considered a power play, as it’s when a person decides to grab your arm and pull you in close towards them and inside their territory/personal space. There are three possible reasons for this: firstly the person may be feeling insecure and needs you to be in their own territory in order to feel comfortable and safe, or secondly they come from a culture/city that requires smaller space needs, or finally, they want to take control and get you off balance. In any of these cases, they should be considered manipulative because the persons wants things done a certain way.

A proper handshake should last from 3 to 6 seconds, be equally balanced meaning each persons hand is vertically side by side, thumbs must be locked around each others upper hand and fingers have a firm grip. Always reciprocate the same amount of pressure you are receiving from the other persons hand, and mentally give a calculation from 1 to 10 of what strength they are using, adjusting accordingly.