Handshake Etiquette: Why Your Handshake Matters…

I saw it again yesterday. I watched as a woman met someone, and her hand looked like a dead fish, or at best, a cross between a dead fish and someone expecting the recipient to kiss her palm. This sounds terrible to say but I felt embarrassed for her.

Your handshake etiquette matters. Please know this advice is not solely for professionals. Every human being should have a solid handshake, and I’m not sure why, but I see women far too often wimp out. You can definitely find a balance between a floppy hand and a death grip. (are you laughing at me yet?) 😉

We all meet new people, and a majority of the time, we shake hands as our first introduction. Do you want someone’s first subconscious feeling about you to be wimpy and blah? Your meh handshake etiquette could be doing just that.

Here’s how to give a better handshake etiquette.

Be prepared. Shake with your right hand. Be mindful of not holding so many things that it becomes difficult to properly shake someone’s hand without risking a spilled drink.

Be approachable. Be mindful of a positive body language, a friendly demeanor and smile.

Shake with your thumb up. Do no shake someone’s hand with your palm up (passive/submissive), or palm down (dominating and blech ego move).

Be firm. Don’t aim to reduce someone’s blood circulation… beyond that you’re good. I’m shocked at how many women give me wimpy hand shakes. Clearly enough that I’m compelled to dedicate an entire blog post to it. 😉 Show someone that you’re alive and excited to meet them with a full-palm handshake. The web between your thumbs should meet.

Lastly… PRACTICE. Again, sounds silly but I have led professional development sessions that included practicing hand shakes. I’m on a personal mission to eradicate the dead fish shake. Extreme perhaps, but imagine getting passed over for a job because of your handshake. I swear to you it happens. And, don’t laugh but I’ve forced Sarah, who’s eight, to practice with me as well.


By the way, if you’re at a networking event and you’re wearing a name tag, be sure to put it on your right side; this way when someone shakes your hand, it’s in their direct line of sight. I’m left-handed so I apparently did it wrong for many years. Simple fix!


Loving this handshake etiquette feature? Take a look here for more of my career favorites!

More Great Content

Join the Conversation

  • Reply
    September 14, 2018 at 4:16 AM

    This is such an informative read dear. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

  • Reply
    Lynn Thompson
    September 11, 2018 at 8:01 AM

    Went to a fun event at a friends home last week! It was a clothing swap!
    Abut 20 stylish women who love clothes brought things they did not wear anymore from jewlery to purses , sweaters and dresses. The idea is if you like something that someone else brought, you can take it(no fighting please). After allot of conversation, wine, snacks etc. whatever was left went to charity. I believe it went to a women’s shelter. Such a fun and feel good time. Everybody wins!!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Send this to friend