Do You Have a Firm Handshake?

Every now and then I meet some dude who has a weak handshake. It feels something like a dead fish greeting or something. Not necessarily a totally bad thing, but kind of sends a bit bad image about the guy. Similarly, I occasionally meet some people with a really firm handshake (strangely enough, they are often pretty old folks).

It gives you a strange feeling when a somebody gives you a lousy handshake, and on the other hand – when you meet somebody (almost) stranger giving a firm handshake you immediately form an opinion about him. A firm handshake gives me a sign about a strong person (businesswise), a weak handshake about a weak person.

What your handshake tells about you?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I know someone who is so strong that he has to give a totally weak handshake or else it will leave you wondering why he shook it so hard..for reals

  2. But I have bad coordination! If at least one of us isn’t looking at the hands as we approach then we will miss and there will only be eye contact and no handshake (I’ll probably end up accidentally shaking hands with their pants or something ew).

  3. @Sargon: May I post that one on passive aggressive notes? :)

    @Jörgen: I’ve heard of psycho cybernetics but haven’t read it. I don’t want to read minds or anything.. I just like to understand my own brain. :) It helps a lot in real-life situations… for example, many people don’t know the difference between problem and conflict and people who turn problems into personal conflicts can be hard to deal with.. learning that kind of stuff really helps when you work in a company and have to deal with “politics” and all that crap. :)

  4. @Oliver: Your onto something. There is immense information in body language and how people react by thier environment. Look at the leadership and personal developing business and see the vast amount of resources all big leaders invest to learn to read and understand people.

    Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycho-Cybernetics; I was so frustrated by discovering that techniques for reading people (as everyone does more or less successful) and managing your own mind (which is hard not difficult) has been out there for ages.

    There is no magic, just focus and knowledge.

  5. You should then look in their left eye, because the left eye tells the truth, and the right eye tells what they want you to believe.

  6. Hey you should add to this — LOOK A PERSON IN THE EYE when you shake their hands!!! Not looking someone in the eye when you shake their hands is even worse than the weak shake!

    good post. To many people fail this.

  7. Oliver, I think you just “see things”.
    Some people believe in astrology, they can read astrology and feel like its so right and true. Eventhough, many of the astrology column writers would admit they just made it up out of nothing, and they don’t really rely on astrological “science”.
    If a person wants to believe in something hard enough, eventually it will be true, but only for that specific person.

  8. @Sargon: Most people are not psychologist, yet why do we judge people by their handshake? Because it’s not some kind of “priviledge” you gain when you become a psychologist but because it’s a subconscious process. All we can do is overlay it with logic or ignore it.

    I know I do judge people by their handshakes and I’m almost never wrong about it… it’s part of the important first impression. I don’t analyze it but I get a gut feeling that I intuitively know what it means. No logic there.

    Same goes for social status. When you’re in a group you subconsciously know who’s where in the hierarchy. You don’t even know to talk to figure that out.

    Now, I’m not a psychologist but I’m interested in that subject and when you pay close attention to how you react you will know it’s true. Most of us just overlay it with logic and ego.

  9. To me, a person with a weak handshake means they never learned to shake hands and they’re not used to shaking hands. I always feel a little bit disgusted when I don’t get a decent handshake out of someone, but then I move on and I forget about it.

    A strong or crushing handshake, to me means the person doesn’t take any crap from anybody, that they’re confident. Doesn’t mean they’re smart or right, but that they’re more likely to think they are. I remember when I have my hand crushed.

  10. It’s a quite complicated process to analyze humans by gestures. That’s why the people who have skills to analyze humans are usually CEO’s of big companies. A firm handshake can indicate a strong will, or strong muscles. Either person will usually lack the other person’s abilities. A guy with a tie will cause a red alert for real programmers, as it’s stricly forbidden for a real programmer to wear a tie. Also a guy with no beard might indicate that he is not running a Linux server, since in the Linux world it’s strictly forbidden to shave the beard unless a server reboot is required.

  11. The point is, I assume you are not a pshycologist.
    And a pshycological analasys of a person requires someone proffessional to do so and can take quite some time with variaying margin error.
    The simplest way to figure out if someone is good to work with, is get recommendations get past proven records.
    Or just work with him on a temporary basis, until he proves himself worthy to work with.
    If a person got a problem with you, but wants to work with you just for the money. Then this is something you should discover, but I don’t think you can discover this with a handshake.
    It would be easier to be honest with him and try figure out what are his problems with common sense.
    Bottom line, a handshake is one tiny parameter out of a billion in a person’s personality, and basing anything on that, without an extensive pshycological analasys of the rest of the person’s personality, is absolutly useless.
    It could help you figure out something if you have a lot of other parameters and data on that person, maybe.
    Otherwise I would cosider making conclusions based on a handshake, similar to making conclusions based on astrology.

  12. @ sargon, yes if you sign a contract with someone who has weak handshake means the judgment is not good, but the point is that you have to know person & judge before signing. Also if person has strong confidence while talking the chance that handshake gonna be strong is high.

    Plus here we don’t talk about rejecting people with weak handshake, the point is that there can me something wrong with people with weak handshake.

    I suppose the logic is clear. It’s not about: IF weak handshake THEN reject; It’s about that in most cases weak handshake means what there’s written up there.

    It’s all about first insight and chances.

    IMHO + if you really want professional information about this, go search psychological studies.

  13. Another thing to consider (which may not apply of course) is that different nationalities do different things to greet people. There are plenty of other countries (mostly Asian) where it is considered rude to touch someone else as a greeting and they will instead put their hands together as a salutation. Almost all these people, if forced to shake hands, will just stick a hand out and let you grab it, but they won’t clasp their hands and will just leave it limp. It feels girly for sure because you almost always end up grabbing their fingers and feeling like a dolt, but the point is some people don’t want t touch what you’ve touched :)

  14. Seriously, can’t you just talk to a person if you are not sure about him?
    Why judge him by the handshake?
    Think of it this way, if you sign a contract with someone who has a weak handshake, that means your sense of judgement is not good. That means your handshake is weak too. :P

  15. I particularly dislike people who seem to want to test your mettle by squeezing as hard as they can and longer than is normal… far worse than a limpie.

  16. P.S. It’s not about moral, it’s more about statistics. What I mean here is that yes of course you have to respect people weather they have strong or weak handshake, but when it comes to business statistics meters.

    There are also psychological studies about this, but in my case I have my own study it’s far away from professional study but from 10 in ~8 cases the thing is like I’ve said in previous post.

    Plus it’s not a physical defect, the strength of handshake it formed according to his/her psychology. So here’s one tip: if you have weak(it’s not about muscles) handshake you have to do something with your psychology, power of will … .

    Plus it tells about person’s sense of responsibility. Say you are signing a partnership, so and the signing end with weak handshake, you might think what’s wrong with that guy, isn’t he confident, doesn’t he think that he can do the job ? …

  17. …and what about people with multiple personalities?
    weak? strong? sensible? generous? childish? nasty? creative? timid?
    c’mon like always we are still talkin about nothing, you can’t say nothing with an handshake, think about the fact that the other person didn’t want to handshake you at all and you’ll have a weak handskave.

  18. I also think it doesn’t matter. I call myself as someone who gives a good strong handshake. But once in a while I encounter someone, who is pressing my hand before the hands have connected totally, so he’s squishing my fingers then. I can tell you, that is not a nice feeling. And it makes you feel “different”. :-)

  19. I also think it doesn’t matter. I call myself as someone who gives a good strong handshake. But once in a while I encounter someone, who is pressing my hand before the hands have connected totally, so he’s squishing my fingers then. I can tell you, that is not a nice feeling. And it makes you feel “different”. :-)

  20. @sargon: of course long people are more intelligent, succesful, goodlooking than others! I’d never vote a short president (I’m kidding here ;) And look at what Ivane writes… if people make judgements based on handshake, perhaps it’s worth thinking about?

  21. In my reality I totally agree with you. Most of people who I met and had weak handshakes, they never had their opinions on stuff, they had more slave psychology that a even normal guy with an average ambition … Plus who I met with strong handshake they where mostly successful and plus they where increasing their success.

    Here is my opinion about weak and strong handshake:

    weak – mostly these people have no their opinions on stuff; Have no healthy ambitions; Can’t be trusted in hard times.

    strong – mostly these people have strong idea about their life what they want, when and how; They can be trusted(mostly); They are mostly physically healthy and it’s always feels good to work with healthy people …

    This is somewhat same thing like if a boxer has good confidence in himself his moves are different if not moves are different.

    P.S. even direction of hand meters when handshaking.


  22. Complete nonsense. :)
    Telling about a person from his handshake is like telling about the person from his height.
    I have met some really successful short people, and some really losers tall people.
    So the handshake is no difference.

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