Handshakes – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly | Selection Partners | Executive Recruitment, Melbourne

Handshakes – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

When you’re working in an industry where you constantly meet and greet new people, whether they’re clients, suppliers or candidates; the common interaction across all of these meetings is the handshake.


First impressions are often founded on the quality of your handshake; was it too hard, too soft, too cold, clammy, sweaty or just right?  The question therefore that comes to my mind is, “What is a good handshake?”.  Everyone has their own options and preferences as to what makes a good or I dare say perfect handshake. The common traits of a handshake that most people can however agree on are; ones we don’t like, ones that leave us feeling confused and wondering “what was that?”

Handshakes that leave us feeling underwhelmed are;

  • The Soft: when someone shakes your hand and it feels like a limp limb, like that scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where Lockhart removes all the bones from Harry’s arm.
  • The Clammy: when someone shakes your hand and it is cold, wet or sweaty and feels like you’re holding a dead fish in your hand.
  • The Fall Short: when someone only meets your hand with their fingers and doesn’t meet your palm with theirs. This one makes you wonder whether you stuffed it up or they did, or if you’re supposed to kiss their hand?  This is worse if it’s clammy or soft. 

What’s left is the bone crushing and hard handshake, I feel this is perceived differently depending on your industry, your circumstances and the industry of the person you are shaking hands with.  For example; within the construction industry and alike, a hard handshake could in fact be considered quite acceptable and a sign of self-assuredness.

Alright, after considering the bad and the ugly, we must consider the good or perfect handshake. For me this is a firm tempered handshake that in turn exudes confidence.  This could be debated as perfect, however as a handshake it leaves a good positive impression.

The key is to keep in mind that how you shake someone’s hand may considerably impact your first impression and not necessarily for the best. 

Written by Desiree

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