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Ten Variations of the Handshake

By Edited May 9, 2016 0 0

The Dead Fish

The Dead Fish

A very apt name for a handshake where the extended hand is limply left dangling and very little contact made with the receiver’s hand.  The hand quite literally looks like a cold and lifeless piece of fish left for the other person to try to grasp and shake.  I’ve heard that there are certain types of people who will offer up this kind of handshake on purpose because their livelihood relies on their hands. 

The Bone Crusher

This is the opposite of the dead fish where the grip during the handshake is too firm to the point that the receiver of the handshake feels uncomfortable.  This type of handshake is often associated with people with controlling and domineering personalities.  If you are guilty of mercilessly crushing the hands of people you meet, just dial the strength on the grip down, everyone you encounter will be grateful for the relief on their bones.

Bone Crusher
Credit: Forever Grippin' the Grain LP

The Clasp Grasp Hug

This form of handshake and greeting is what I have used ever since college with friends and family.  The approach is the same as a regular handshake to the point where the palms meet and clasp with each other, but the shaking motion replaced by a secondary grasp towards the thumbs like you are engaging in an arm wrestling match.  The last motion is a gentle pull towards each other where depending on how well you know each other could just be a courteous bump of the shoulders, or the left hand gives a quick pat on the back for a hug.  Be mindful of the timeframe for the hug, it should be brief because any lingering embracing could be taken the wrong way.

Sweaty Palms

The Sweaty Palms

Meeting new people or going for a job interview is a very nerve-wracking and frightening experience.  The human instinct is to try to relieve some of the tension by keeping the hands closed and balled up.  The tension will slightly be lessened, but now you have to deal with one of the grossest feeling handshakes in the Sweaty Palm.  You don’t want the first impression of your potential new employer or even a first date to associate you with the uncomfortable feeling of a wet, cold and clammy hand squishing in their fingers.

The Politician

The Politician begins like a standard handshake, but the left hand cups around the back of the receiver’s hand and ultimately making a hand sandwich.  The intended message is to show sincerity and sensitivity for the person being offered the handshake and indicates a close personal relationship.

The Politician

The Fist Bump

Also known as The Pound or Knuckle Bump and is exactly what the name implies where instead of clasping hands together, the two greeting parties close their right fists and lightly tap the fists together.  It is generally a favored greeting for people who wish to keep up their level of exposure to germs at a minimum, as evidenced by known mysophobe Howie Mandel.  There is no direct origin of where the Fist Bump came from, but early accounts trace it as far back to the late 1800’s to the way boxers would greet each other with their gloved hands.  Personally, I like to imagine that the 1977 Wonder Twins popularized the Fist Bump through their power activation, and has been the inspiration ever since.

Wonder Twin Powers Activate(112747)
Credit: DC Comics

The Good Sportsman

The Sportsman handshake takes me back to my childhood days where I used to play organized sports.  At the end of every game as a sign of good sportsmanship, the kids were to form single file lines opposite of each other in the middle the field or court and do a mid-five while saying, “Good Game”.  Even to this day, while watching professional sporting events this sign of good sportsmanship and camaraderie is still observed and is a great example for young athletes everywhere today.

The Fresh Prince

My first exposure to a form of secret handshake The Fresh Prince was the highest form of cool in the 90’s, and was all the craze when I was a kid.  At the heart of it was its simplicity where the mid-five is initiated and upon making contact with your partner’s hand, swinging the hand back in the opposite direction while making a “psssh” sound. 

The Fresh Prince
Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution

The Air Ball or Left Hanging

The Air Ball is a basketball term where a person who takes a shot at the basket and completely misses the hoop, the net, or the backboard.  This handshake takes that same principle wherein someone extends their hand out for a handshake or a high-five, and either misses the person’s hand completely, or the person is literally left with their hand hanging awkwardly suspended in mid-air.  Not all handshakes end up with the successful results that we intend them for.

Left Hanging

The Awkward

I had no other name for this handshake but to call it The Awkward.  In the years of the handshake’s evolution we can see just from this article alone that there are many approaches, grips, variations, or even positions to greet other people.  This is where both people are not in sync with each other and cannot decide how to approach their greeting.  For example, one person is attempting a standard handshake; and the other is initiating another variation like a Fist Bump, or some other method of handshake.  The result is an awkward and demented looking game of rock paper scissors where the two are trying to come to terms with how to shake hands, but just end up with a strange hybrid of the two handshakes being attempted.

The Double Dragon Awkward
Credit: Imperial Entertainment, Les Films du Scarabee, Greenleaf Productions, Scanbox International

Have you experienced any of these handshakes? Or have you come across a new breed of handshake?  Let me know your experience in the comments or send me a message.  I always love hearing stories about other people’s encounters.

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