Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Claudia Cox.
Do you get nervous about shaking a woman’s hand? You’re probably not alone.
When you first meet anyone—man or woman—your handshake says a lot about you.
It can say, “Here is a confident, assertive guy who knows what he wants from life.” Or, it can leave the other person thinking, “WTF. Who is this timid weakling?”
Your handshake has to be spot on to deliver the right message.
But do you ever wonder whether you should adjust your technique when shaking hands with a lady?
I personally hadn’t considered this until I was at a networking event recently and a beast of a man shook my hand so hard I thought he was trying to steal my limb.
“What the heck is happening?” I thought, as my life flashed before my eyes. Wine overflowed from my glass, and I’m almost certain I heard a crack.
By the time he had finished arm wrestling me, I was almost in tears.
He may as well have followed up with, “Nice to meet you. My name is Conan.”
Seriously. I do Body Pump but I was no match for this suited Hulk.
My impression of “Dale” (as he introduced himself, though he probably usually goes by the name Dale the Destroyer) was immediately soured.
“This is a guy who just doesn’t know how to communicate with women on a basic, non-verbal level. He still has a bit of cave man in him,” flickered through my mind while he told me how I could connect with him on social media.
It got me thinking. Do guys really not know how to shake a lady’s hand like a gentleman?
You might be protesting, “Of course I do!”
“I have NEVER given a woman an injury after shaking her hand,” you might be thinking.
“My record so far is fifty handshakes and not a single hospitalization.”
Okay, great. Good for you!
But I’m certain this is not actually true.
Many guys are confused about how to shake a lady’s hand, and they usually end up shaking it the way they shake a guy’s hand with ultimate, brutal, primitive power.
But here’s the thing: we’re NOT men.
And there is a right and wrong way to shake our hands. A way to leave a pleasant impression, as opposed to leaving us feeling like we’ve just unwittingly auditioned for a role in Terminator 15.
It’s just basic manners, yet so many men miss it.
To help you out, here are a few tips on how to shake a lady’s hand like a gentleman:
1. First of All, Stop With The Power Stuff
What is it with guys wanting to rough other guys up like they’re in a UFC cage match when they shake hands?
I don’t get this.
Yet I’ve seen men tense all their muscles up before grasping their opponent in a vice-like grip that would produce a crack if it was allowed to go on any longer.
It’s a sort of “I’m stronger than you, buddy” demonstration of power.
Eyeballs bulge out of their sockets, and head veins quiver and burst.
Lose this idea and instead …
2. Be Frigging Normal
Yes! Lose any pretensions that you have to exert your dominance over other people when you shake their hands.
Look, they’re just human beings like you. They have bones and feelings.
Move your hands up and down in a, well, an UP AND DOWN motion.
None of this rag doll stuff. Don’t squeeze. Just stay normal. Stop thinking about trying to be a frigging Pharaoh.
3. Understand That Hand Size Can Make All the Difference
Got giant hands? The last thing you want to do is swallow her hand whole so that she worries she’s never going to get it back.
Understand that different sizes can cause issues, and adapt your technique.
4. A Little Bit of Pressure Will Do
That’s all you need—just a bit of pressure. Too much is inappropriate and painful. Just enough shows that you are confident, yet mindful of her needs.
5. Touch Her Arm
Be SOFT with your handshake and have a bit of finesse.
And as you’re being all soft and gentle—like a man who cares about women and the fact that she wants to get out of this networking event alive—touch her arm with your other hand.
This is a great piece of non-verbal communication that is warm and friendly.
6. Remember Why You’re Shaking Her Hand
You’re shaking it to establish trust and confidence…
Not to dominate her into oblivion, or to exert your manliness.
7. Picture Yourself Picking Up A Baby
Would you crush a baby?
Of course you wouldn’t.
Keep that image in your mind when shaking a lady’s hand.
8. Kiss Her Hand If the Situation Calls For It
The situation won’t always call for it, but IF it does, then kiss her hand.
You know, like the French do.
If hand-kissing is something you usually do, you’re probably pretty experienced. Continue to do it, as it shows class.
However, if you’ve never kissed a woman’s hand before, you shouldn’t do it without a bit of practice first. If you don’t do it right, it might come across as creepy.
Remember, you can strike a balance between being a confident man….and being someone who is civilized and attentive to the needs of women you meet.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but ladies aren’t the same as gentlemen. Tailor your handshake appropriately, and you’ll have nothing to worry about!