Motivate and Inspire


In our culture, a handshake accompanies almost every introduction and initiates many conversations. It sets the tone for new relationships by signaling others of your integrity. It conveys your confidence, credibility, and influence without sharing a single word. People often admit to judging others based on this small gesture. Have you ever wondered what your handshake says about you?

Here are seven types of handshakes you should avoid. Hopefully, yours is not one of them:

  1. Dead Fish. Also known as the limp noodle, this handshake conveys weakness and uncertainty. It gives people the impression you have a passive personality and can be easily overrun. Don’t use this handshake even when tempted to be gentle with a person due to age or gender.
  2. Hand Crusher. Want someone to forget your name immediately? Squeeze their hand with constant force. They’ll be so distracted from the pain they’ll tune out anything you say. This type of handshake diminishes trust others are willing to place in you. It sends the message you’re trying too hard, and people will likely question what you say after that.
  3. Long Lingerer. Few things can make a handshake recipient more uncomfortable than someone who won’t let go of their hand. Handshakes should be no more than two seconds in length. Anything longer begins to cross personal boundaries and feels like a desperate invasion of space.
  4. Hip Hipster. First bumps and fancy handshakes have their place—with friends and family. They have no business in the workplace. They reflect a lack of awareness and a need to be revered as “cool” not credible. Images of frat boys and football parties come to mind instead of experienced professionals.
  5. Brush Off. A handshake is intended to kickstart a meaningful connection. When shaking someone’s hand, be deliberate with your eye contact, and don’t rush the exchange. Nothing makes someone feel like they’re unimportant or being blown off quite like shaking hands with a person in a rush or looking around at others.
  6. Wet Weasel. It’s natural to get nervous and have anxiety before big meetings or introductions. What isn’t natural is the feeling of contacting someone’s sweaty palms. If you know you are likely to have unusually wet palms, carry a handkerchief in your pocket to use just before the introduction. You can also wash your hands with cold water to help keep them cool under pressure.
  7. Shugger. The shug is best known as a handshake that pulls the receiver closer to you physically, almost as if you were going to hug them. It forces them to come closer as your hand stays closely tucked into your body. Although this type of handshake is common among friendly colleagues and peers, it sends a message of favoritism to those on the outside looking in. Remember that your handshake conveys a message to everyone, not just the person whose hand you’re shaking.

Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke Inc. She is the author of Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday and Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A to Z to Influence Others to Take Action. Learn more about her team and company at

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