Shake that! The right way

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n Benin, young men snap fingers while shaking hands. In Botswana, people touch hands with a slight grazing of the palms and fingers. In Singapore, after you handshake it’s customary to place the other person’s hand over your heart. Among Scandinavian teens, exchanging spit by means of a handshake seals a deal.

You say “Ew, no”? Let me teach you the vitality of a perfect handshake. Many business school students that take etiquette classes are grilled on the different types of handshakes that are considered acceptable in various cultures. In fact many multi national company's judge an interviewee by their hand shake. Here’s an example: I was talking to a friend on my ATT home phone some weeks back. He mentioned that he attended an interview in a Michelin star rated hotel in Penn state. The interview was for the post of a lobby manager. When I asked how the interview went, he answered that he was pleased and would most likely land the job. A week later he got back a letter saying that although his ‘resume was impressive’, his ‘ personality seemed to lack self confidence’ and ‘unfortunately, would not be suited for the job’. Turns out he offered a sweaty, clammy hand to one of the interviewers who just so happened to be Austrian. Yeah okay, clammy hands are scorned upon in any dark corner of the world. And it’s just morally wrong to offer sweaty hands. But why mention the nationality? Nationality and culture plays an important role in business dealings and social gatherings.

It’s unethical to offer your hand to a person of the opposite sex in Judaism. So if you were ever alienated at a chuppah, it was less likely because you dressed funny but because of the wrong handshake. You may be incapacitated in some rural parts of the Islam world for offering your hand to a woman. But it’s totally fine to crush another man’s hand while shaking it and sputtering some words in Arabic. In fact, they’ll be pleased and try to offer you a sip of hookah. But don’t fall for that. In India, don’t offer your hand to a young woman, or a grown up girl- it might be mistaken for a marriage proposition. Find a Japanese woman in a beautiful kimono? Don’t approach her unless she passes you a glance. And for your sake, don’t offer your hand, she will bow to you in greeting. Mind you, these are just some traditional rules applying to the more conventional people of monochromic cultures. Being said they are monochromic, Asian countries in general are becoming more open to western culture these days. You don’t have to fear for your life.

Talking about western culture, it’s okay to kiss a woman’s hand after a firm shake in some European countries. Especially in France and Switzerland. Jamaicans complain that Americans are distant and Americans complain that Germans are cold and unfriendly. Sure, when you first meet them, Jamaicans don’t shake hands with you. But once you get acquainted, they expect a casual “lock and fly” or a one harmed hug or a ‘shug’ or a ‘bro grab’ or a ‘hetero-hug’ or whatever it’s known as in your country. Americans and Canadians expect a firm, short handshake with one or two pumps. If you offer them a limp handshake or what is infamously known as the ‘dead fish’, they come to the conclusion that you’re a wimp or lack in masculinity. And Germans? Do they even shake hands? They just jump straight to the business.

The most professional way to greet someone is the vice grip handshake. It is widely accepted so you don’t have to worry about cultural barriers. This handshake allows both people to be equal contributors. You don’t crush or squeeze, or hold hands for longer than necessary. Make eye contact, but don’t stare at the person. If he’s East Asian, he’ll think that you’re trying to intimidate him. The youth these days have a lot of trendy handshakes including, ‘dabs’, ‘pounds’, ‘fist bumps’ among other things that I don’t care to mention.

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annphilip has 188 articles online and 1 fans

Ann is a personal blogger. She likes to explore different cultures and traditions. Her interests include design, pottery, phonetics, and tarot reading. She likes to chat with her friends for hours on her home phone powered by ATT home phone.

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Shake that! The right way

This article was published on 2012/02/17
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