Handshake Grips

Part of the Albanian culture is shaking someone’s hand when you meet. If they are a male, you only shake hands. If you are a female greeting a female, you follow it up with a kiss on each cheek while still shaking hands. Maybe it’s just the culture of the handshake itself but even though I’m halfway around the world, I find the type of handshakes I’ve encountered to be the same as at home. Let me share 5 of those with you.

The Fish Grip: That’s what it feels like. Like you’re shaking hands with a fish. Their wrists are tight but it’s as if they have no other bone in their body and the rest of their hand is just limp. I’ve never actually shaken hands with a fish. Probably because they don’t have hands to shake. But if they did, this is exactly what it would be like. Awkward.

The Power Grip: This person likes to feel powerful. They like to feel power by squeezing the life out of your hand. Literally. If you can’t use or feel your hand for a few minutes afterward, congratulations. You have just transferred your power via handshake and have satisfied their appetite for power.

The 2 for 1 Grip: This person isn’t sure what grip they have. They may start out with a fish grip or a slightly less awkward variation and then move into a power grip which can take you by complete surprise. This person is like a wildcard where you get two grips in one handshake.

The Chicken Grip: Do not let this one fool you. This person is not scared. This person will hang on to your hand for dear life as if you are playing a game of chicken where whoever is the first to let go loses. They may shake your hand during an entire 5 minute conversation.

The Two Handed Grip: Oh you know these people. They have gotten confused somewhere along the way and think it’s called a hands shake. They go in for the handshake with their other hand following closely behind. One hand full of awkwardness is enough for me. Please don’t double it by using two.

The Follow Grip: This can be quite awkward as well. This person never initiates anything. They rarely start the handshake. Then, they’ll let you squeeze first to see what kind of grip you have before following quickly with a squeeze of their own. They’ll also let you initiate the release sequence. I have found this to be most when you meet a fellow follow gripper. You are both waiting to see what kind of grip the other has. But when you are quickly testing the waters you mistake their “testing” for a fish grip. So you have two fish grippers, neither of whom will start the release until it is too late to avoid any more awkwardness. Please take a moment and visualize this.

I have yet to possess the talent to be able to look at a person and know what type of handshake they are going to give. It makes for quite the awkward situation when I think you’ve got a power grip so I go in for the kill when you’ve actually got a fish grip. Imagine how bad I feel. I am now not only the jerk who does the power grip but I’m the jerk times two because you had no defense set up for that with your limp, lifeless fish grip. So I always go for the follow grip. It’s much safer 99% of the time.

Those are a few of the grips I have come in contact with as I’ve been shaking hands around the world.  What kind of grip do you have when shaking hands? What’s your most awkward handshaking experience?


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