The Handshake: How to go from Friendly to Awkward in One Step

The handshake - How to go from friendly to awkward in one step

This week a met a superb guy at a networking event, I mean I really liked everything about him until I shook his hand to say goodbye.

What started out as I warm, friendly, firm, ‘proper British’ handshake turned very awkward, very VERY quickly. He just would not let go of my hand and carried on talking even though I said ‘good bye’. I am not talking a hand shake that lasted a few more seconds than the traditional 3-5 seconds. I am talking minutes, several minutes more!!

He made a really good first impression which is absolutely essential at work, in business and in all social situations such as a networking event.

A thought that popped into my head as I waited for him to let go after a failed attempt to release y hand. Was this the new norm.? Had the rules on hand shaking changing and no one told me?

So I turned to one of my trusted BFs (best friends), and she agreed with me it was a pretty weird thing to have happened.

As the UK is not his birthplace, I turned to another friend, not so much trusted, as necessary, the internet! Maybe something was lost in translation, it left me wondering; where was his hand shake from?

I found good infographic on Mental Floss that illustrated some of the global differences:

United Kingdom – Light handshake; after shaking hands, do not stand or speak too close. As he wouldn’t let go of my hand he was standing and speaking to close. So definitely not from the UK

France – Shake quickly and lightly. Nope not French.

United States – Introduce yourself by name with a firm handshake. Maybe American, but probably not.

Australia – If you’re a woman shaking man’s hand, offer your hand first. Not sure about this one as I can’t remember who put their hand out first.

Morocco – Gentle handshake: shake only if you’re the same gender. Nope

Russia – Don’t shake hands with the opposite sex, unless it’s a business situation; a man should kiss a woman’s hand. Okay it was a business networking sitch (short for situation), so if he were Russian that would be okay.

Please note if we ever met in person. Do not! Do not! Do not kiss my hand! I had a cousin who would always do that, the kiss was always a bit too wet and all-encompassing of my hand. Argghhh!

Mexico – Long-lasting handshake: if you’re a man, it could be followed by a hug. Maybe but he didn’t have that samba ‘til dawn vibe.

Turkey – Firm shakes are rude; hold the hand for a long time. I thought I had a winner….

Then… United Arab Emirates – start by shaking the hand of the oldest person; a lingering shake is expected; do not pull away too soon.

Then…Brazil – Firm handshake that lasts long: mix in strong eye contact: repeat when you leave.

So I think he was half Brazilian as I don’t remember shaking hands when we introduced ourselves and I think I would remember that. Don’t you!



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