Ritual greeting where both parties extend hands to be grasped and shaken (not stirred).

Most common in North America and often found in business settings. Some groups use secret handshakes to identify other members of said group and to confuse everyone else.

An electronic signal used to synchronize communications at the beginning of a transmission. The strange squeals you hear if you still have an archaic POTS modem are the sounds of the two modems handshaking and negotiating.

The handshake is a ritual greeting, probably stemming from a gesture of good faith, signifying that one did not have a weapon in their hand. Thus, the persons in question were affirming one another that they were not enemies. In short, a handshake, in any setting (especially that of the business world), should be firm and fast, with no perspiration on the shaking hand--preferably the right. The reason for this is that, historically, handshakes are reserved for right hand while the most personal of personal hygiene and grooming involves the left hand.

All business settings, any meeting, any peace treaty, any singularly important event will begin with a handshake. It is a simple, elegant, dignified form of greeting that deserves a little exploration.


  • Begin by inconspicuously wiping any excess perspiration off the hand (your pants should be fine, if you're stealthy enough). To be honest, any excess perspiration is rather disgusting, and this should be a no-brainer. If you don't think to do this, you probably shouldn't be shaking hands.
  • You want a discreet, yet pointed handshake. It must be strong, firm, and quick. Two well-done up and down strokes should do just nicely. Lingering too long, pumping the other's hand like a piston is bordering on sheer idiocy; and because a good handshake is so important, people will remember how you shake hands.
  • As a male, it used to be quite commonplace to shake the hand of a woman, and kiss her cheek, or otherwise display affection, due to her gender. This is not appropriate. At all. Do shake her hand the way you would anyone else, as an equal, because that's what she is. A businesswoman is no different than a businessman.
  • Feel free to politely decline from a handshake if you are ill. If the other person is sane, they will understand your aversion. Let's say the person's hand is excessively dirty, gross, wet. Again, politely decline.
  • Keep your eyes open for the customary nuances of the etiquette involving the handshake wherever you are. In some places, a handshake can be a little more lengthy than you are accustomed to; perhaps gripping the shoulder in a friendly manner during the handshake is normal. Perhaps it is the custom to embrace a person in a hug. Who knows? When in Rome, they say, do as the Romans do.


  • Don't do anything ridiculously inane, like high-five someone, thumb-wrestle, wave gang signs, flag down a taxi, knock fists together, or anything similar. When you think about it, these are all fairly juvenile gestures, aren't they? So, please don't.
  • Don't shake with both your hands around the other person's own. That's a little too much, as if they just told you that you won fifty million dollars. (I'm sure that, on the off chance that you did, in fact, win fifty million dollars, that this would be all right. Then again, so would jumping around like a fool, but you don't see that in a business setting.)
  • Do not, under any circumstances, spit on your hand to "seal the deal".
  • Do not hug the person unless you know them very well, it's been a long time since you've seen them, you time-share a condo, you grew up together, and you're amongst people of similar social standing. If the other person decides that they want to bring you into a hug, it's best to let it slide; you can complain and belittle them behind their backs later.
  • Do not avoid someone else's handshake if they have a cold. This is bad form. Instead, simply wait until a conveniently uninsulting moment arises, and go wash your hand. You hypochondriac.
  • One more Don't: Don't attempt to roll your hand over, so that it ends up on top of the other person's. This is bad, bad, bad. (Thanks, wertperch!)

All in all, these things are all common sense, aren't they? The cardinal rule is, of course, be appropriate. Be respectful, assertive, and attentive. Respect breeds respect, and given that a simple handshake can mean so much, it is essential, as always, to make a good impression.

Source: a strange coverless, backless book on business etiquette that I found in my back alley last night. The only thing I can make out is that it's publish by "...RST BOOKS". It's really a shame that I can't find anything about it, because it's really quite interesting. And I need to buy it, too, because the middle sixty pages or so are missing. Don't worry, I'm not plagiarizing or anything. Actually, if anyone has any idea about the book that I'm talking about; this book is very interesting. So if you find out about it, please /msg Devon_Hart.
Please also take a look at BaronCarlos's firm handshake node, for further information.

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