Hi! I’ve never met you, but wrap your hand around mine and shake it. This is the technique us humans have decided to use to greet people. Think about that for a moment. I’m sure you’ve shaken someone else’s hand, whether it’s to greet them, introduce yourself, or even as a form of saying thank you. And, interestingly enough, handshakes are usually done using the right hand.

Have you ever noticed, but everyone’s handshake is different and unique to themselves? For instance, extroverted people have a very confident and firm grip, while introverts tend to make the process very slight and soft. These are only two very general types of handshakes, in reality, there is a very large number of types of handshakes out there. I will name a few of the most common ones here.

Mateo Sol via lonerwolf

The most popular handshake with politicians or people in authoritative positions is the “hand hug”. This is when the person wraps their left hand around the hand shake, literally hugging it. Sometimes, four hands are involved in this process, forming a cocoon of protection. This is usually done to drive across a sense of friendliness and trustworthiness and is rarely done with people who are very unfamiliar with each other as that could be perceived as a form of intrusion on privacy. Another type of handshake that you have definitely experienced before is called the “dead fish”. Surprisingly enough, this type of handshake feels exactly like the way it sounds, cold and clammy. It is when the hand you are shaking has no energy at all, and your hand dominates all movement. So it literally feels as if you are holding a dead fish, and trying to get it to shake your hand. People who use this kind of handshake often have very low self-esteem and are very introverted.

Mateo Sol via lonerwolf

But my ultimate question is, “Why do we even do handshakes in the first place?”. Originally, handshakes were a demonstration of honesty as it physically exposed one’s hand to that of another person. This serves as a sign of peace and proves that no weapons were being concealed. It isn’t just the politicians that do handshakes, people nowadays also shake hands to display respect to the other person; for instance, before a sports match, players can be seen shaking hands with each other.

Although handshakes are very widespread and are accepted in many parts of the world, some places have very different ways of greeting people. For example, in many parts of Asia, people bow to each other as a form of greeting, while in France, people greet each other with kisses on the cheeks.

Nicole Gallucci via Mashable

To conclude my blog post, I will leave you with something to contemplate on Donald Trump’s handshake. He often shakes people’s hands for a very long time, much longer than is necessary. Furthermore, he pats the other person’s hand, which shows that he is pretending to demonstrate affection, but actually, he is reminding the other person of his superior status through the patting. I’m sure you’ve seen Trump’s “yank shake”, where he physically pulls the other person toward him, sometimes a little too vigorously. This, apparently, is another one of his ways of showing power, as it catches the other person off-guard for they would never have anticipated this unique form of greeting.


  1. Stella says:

    I really enjoyed how this blog post tied in the history of handshakes and current events! Donald Trump certainly has a very unique handshake. Is there a reason why people typically use their right hands for handshakes?

  2. Brandon says:

    Why do you think different practices exist (i.e., handshaking, bowing, etc.) in different cultures?

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