What’s in a Handshake?

History of the Handshake



A good handshake is a part of business
Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shaking hands is common in the business world and also in many lands but do we know how the handshake originated?

There are no real records that can give us a definitive answer but many believe that it the handshake came about because the right hand is traditionally used to hold a weapon such as a sword. When people met by extending the right hand they showed that they were not carrying a weapon and were therefore approaching each other in a friendly manner. The handshake today is certainly universally accepted in business and expressions such as “let’s shake hands on this” are used to signify agreement or a contract between parties.

A Decent Handshake

You may have heard people say that a person has a “decent handshake”. A good handshake is often one that is described as being firm but not too hard. Wet and clammy hands and a limp handshake are frowned upon and feel unpleasant so it’s a good idea to make sure that your hands are not sweaty, dirty or wet before shaking hands. Offer your hand with the thumb open to allow the other persons hand to fit in the gap and hold firmly but not hard for around 3 seconds. Look the person in the eye and smile as you speak to them.

The Handshake Debate

The use of the handshake has caused much debate over the years and training for politicians, sales people and so forth in having a good handshake has been included in many courses. You will find a search for handshake on the Internet will produce a lot of results. Why not practice your handshake and make sure that you have a “decent handshake”?

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