How To Give Good and Proper Handshakes

Updated: September 22, 2014

One of the basic things that every person should know is how to give proper handshakes. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a party or in a business meeting, if you’re greeting a friend or a client – a good and firm handshake is always necessary. Not only does it create a good and favorable impression but also establishes an optimistic character and a healthy level of confidence to the receiver.

Professional image consultant, Jill Bremer, once said: “Handshakes are the only consistent physical contact we have in the business world. They also happen first in an encounter, so they set the tone for the entire relationship that follows.


When I ran for the university student council back in college, I was expected to go around the campus to meet and shake hands with a lot of my peers. A personality development adviser showed me how to properly execute a handshake. It wasn’t difficult to learn at all. All it took was a few practice grips while keeping in mind these tips:

Five Steps To A Good Handshakeproperhandshake.gif

  1. Establish and maintain eye contact. Give a warm smile. It helps to say something like, “Nice to meet you.” Or simply say, “Hi.”
  2. Extend your arms, hands outstretched with thumbs straight up. Predict where your hands will meet. Prepare for contact.
  3. Upon landing, slide and adjust your hand so that you and the other person’s web are touching. (The web is the skin between your thumb and forefinger)
  4. Consider the strength of the other person. Adjust the grip and make it firm. Match the power.
  5. Shake a couple of times and disengage.

How about you? Have you ever considered the way you shake hands with people? Here are of the most common mistakes people do when giving a handshake and tips on how to change and improve.

Wet Hands
Always keep your palm dry. It’s okay to get nervous and sweat, but if you’re anticipating a handshake. Make sure that you keep a handkerchief or tissue ready. Don’t wipe it over your pants or shirt!

Limp Hands
A soft and loose grip implies lack of interest or worse, low self-esteem. Reach confidently with your hands perpendicular to the ground. Pretend that you’re shaking someone’s hand in front of a mirror and observe. Your hands should look firm and confident.

Four-Finger Handshake
You get this when the webs of the hands do not properly meet and lock which results to an awkward shake of the four fingers. One of the best ways to avoid this is to employ presence of mind during the handshake, carefully adjusting and sliding your palms to achieve proper grip.

Crushing Grip
Always consider who you are shaking hands with. Different people require different levels of strength. You may not know it but you could be hurting the other person. One way to do this is to let the other person apply the initial grip and adjust yours up to the point when the handshake feels sturdy and comfortable.

A good and proper handshake is best achieved through application. Practice with your friends and ask for feedback. A handshake is just a simple gesture, but it is an important part of etiquette which every social being should learn.

Works Cited:
Bremer, Jill. “Bremer Communications: Handshakes and Introductions in Business”. 2004

Photos courtesy of dmswart and dkonstruxion


  1. I hate it when I shake hands and my hands are cold lol. I’ll go to church and shake an elderly womans hands with my cold hands and she’ll make a face like, what the hell? warm up your hands ahah. It’s funny.

  2. i wonder why you’re hands were cold in the first place, hmmm…

    maybe you could rub your palms together before you shake hands so that you won’t shock those elderly women again. 🙂

  3. Never had I thought about the proper way of handshaking. Or at least, I was never aware that there IS a proper way. Thanks for posting this one.

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