1st Impressions


Today’s world is primarily digital; between LinkedIn, Skype, Facebook and more, it’s easy to forget what is being lost: the physical connection. In most situations, you’ll meet a new boss or client online before  meeting them face-to-face and though you’ll recognize them, it’s important to remember you still need to make a good first impression. There are many aspects that can affect a first impression such as clothes, mannerisms, etiquette and most importantly, the first handshake. Though often overlooked, the first handshake can reveal crucial information that the digital world has kept hidden.

Stereotypes highlight men as having a firm handshake while women are relegated  to the weak, loose handshake. Here you will learn what handshake you have, what it means and what handshake you should adopt as your own, moving forward.

“The Definitive Book of Body Language” describes the six worst handshakes and what they mean about your inner self.


1. The Wet Fish: This happens when you’re shaking a cold and clammy hand. It often leaves a “flaccid feel of the Wet Fish” (59). This handshake normally is associated with weak character. This is because the palm can be turned over easily. The receiver will see it as a lack of commitment. 

A genetic condition called hyperhidrosis can cause chronic sweating; if you have this condition, it is best to carry tissues to dry your hand before a handshake.image2

2. The Vise: A favorite of men, the vice reveals the desire to dominate. With a grip that can stop the blood flow in a hand, it is normally accompanied by a sharp downward pump. This handshake is sometimes used by a person who fears others will dominate them. 

image33. The Bone-Crusher: This handshake leaves a lasting impression of pain and a fear of future handshakes. A close cousin to the Vise, the Bone-Crusher is often given from an aggressive personality. It has no warning as it seizes its opponent’s hand into a disfiguring position. 

There have been incidents of blood being drawn due to jewelry squeezed into the soft flesh of the hand. To play it safe, avoid wearing rings.

image44. The Fingertip Grab: This handshake is common between male-female greetings. A fingertip grab is when the user grabs the other person’s fingers. It may seem that the initiator has a positive attitude towards the receiver but in fact the user wants to keep a comfortable distance from the receiver; this is often done to protect the user’s personal space. 

image55. The Stiff-Arm Thrust: This is another handshake often used by aggressive types. Its purpose is to keep the receiver at a distance and ensure personal space. This handshake is also common with people raised in rural areas who tend to have larger personal space needs. 

image66. The Socket-Wrencher: A handshake that can often lead to the relationship starting on the wrong foot, the socket-wrencher forcefully grips the receiver’s outstretched palm, and then simultaneously applies a sharp reverse thrust. This is an attempt to bring the receiver over the line and into the user’s territory.  This handshake is often used by power players and normally leaves the receiver off balance with the feeling of a torn ligament. 

It’s likely that you’ve experienced one of the following world’s worst handshakes but how do you shake hands correctly?  Your handshake’s first impression will tell the receiver one of three things: dominance, submission or equality. These attitudes are sent and received subconsciously. You can have the upper hand by paying attention and making a conscious decision on what you’d like to convey about yourself.

For a dominant handshake, you will want your hand to be on top with your palm down; your hand doesn’t need to be completely horizontal for a dominant handshake to be affective. As long as the angle keeps your hand slightly on top, it communicates that you are taking control.

“The Definitive Book of Body Language” conducted a study of 350 successful senior management executives which revealed that 88 percent of males and 31 percent of females used the dominant handshake position (43).  With women, power issues are generally less prominent which is most likely why only one of three women attempted the upper-hand position during their handshake.

This study also found that in social contexts, women will often give a soft handshake to imply submissiveness.  The submissive handshake is the opposite of the upper-hand; your palm will be facing up instead of down. This automatically gives the receiver the upper-hand position. This handshake is useful in situations such as an apology.

Work and health are another element that can affect a person’s handshake. For instance, people who are in a profession that uses their hands, such as artists, musicians, and surgeons, will use a weak handshake to protect their hands. There are also health conditions which can make people shy away from a handshake because of pain, such as arthritis.

With all of these options, what if you just want to be on the same playing field as the person you’re introduced to? If you want to be viewed as an equal, the result is a handshake where both palms remain in a vertical position. The hand hold is firm but not tight. This creates the feeling of equality and mutual respect.

As a general rule, for a great first impression, extend your arm early as you approach from a distance. This gives the receiver time to know your intent and forces them to face you straight on. It also lets you start the handshake on an equal basis. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, start if off right!

To view the original article please see our magazine titled “Advancements for Women” Vol 4, Issue 3 by Clicking Here 

Become a member of NAWRB today! LEARN MORE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *