Far out Friday: The seven deadly handshake sins

by Mackenzie McCarty09 Aug 2013

We’ve all been there: You’ve just been introduced to someone at a party/business meeting/[insert alternative awkward social situation here]. You smile, say hello and your hand powers forward like an unmanned locomotive – only, instead of being greeted by the friendly feel of foreign fingers, you find yourself grasping a moist, clammy, flaccid blob of flesh.

Congratulations, you’ve just been offered The Limp Fish.

Or, worse, you’re the one offering up limp fish to unsuspecting new acquaintances, in which case you should probably read the following guide to…

The Nine Most Awful Handshakes Ever:

  1. The Bone Crusher

Your hand grasps the other person’s hand so hard you can feel their blood vessels pop and their finger bones turn into chalk powder. According to psychologists, this means you’re aggressive and dominating. According to everyone else, it means you’re an a**hole.

  1. The Politician

You grab the other person’s hand with both of your hands. While you might think this makes you come across as enthusiastic and genuine, it actually just comes across as creepy in a used car salesmen way (and we all know how brokers feel about being compared to used car salesmen).

  1. The Never-Let-Go

“Hi, my name’s Fred. It’s so nice to meet you, I just know we’re going to be great friends - do you like cats? I like cats. I have seven cats, their names are…..Oh, am I still holding your hand? It’s so soft – like my cats…” Awkward.

  1. The Pull-You-In-Close Shaker

Let’s just be honest here: What you really want is a hug.

  1. The Limp Fish

As discussed above, this is the one where you offer up a dead salmon in lieu of your hand. This is only a good idea if you’re shaking hands with a grizzly bear - which we also don’t recommend.

  1. The Sweaty McSweaterson

Pretty self-explanatory: your hands feel like the pond that dead fish above was rotting in. This unfortunately happens to most of us when we get nervous. If you know a handshake’s coming, run your hands under one of those dryer things in the toilets. Or wipe them on your shirt. Or combine with the following in the hopes that they’ll never actually figure out how to shake your hand in the first place…

  1. The Hipster

A confusing, choreographed, multi-faceted handshake designed to make the recipient feel old and out of touch. The Hipster is the favoured handshake for skateboarders, rappers and (we suspect) many people suffering from chronic cases of The Sweaty McSweaterson.

Also worth an honourable mention is The Molester, often (though not always) administered by men to women they may or may not find attractive. It involves holding the recipient’s hand just a little too long, just a little too ‘lovingly’ and with just a hint of thumb gyrating on palm.

On that note, the author’s going to go wash her hands.

*Inspired by The Oatmeal


  • by Terry Quin-Conroy 9/08/2013 10:06:43 AM

    Or there is that other one where someone grabs your hand a bit before you are ready and your hand is in a closed position like a little kids hand. Its a bit like the bone crusher has they have "the upper hand" and you feel like a right dork! It happens in reverse as well but I try to say ''Lets try that again" and give them a chance to have their hand in a ready position.
    I try hard not to offer my hand to women if I think they may not wish to shake. I don't blame them actually.
    All in all its not a very good practice.
    Saluting is a lot more hygenic!