Open Thread

by epi on August 19, 2011

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This open thread is your space to use as you like.  We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie August 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

For the past several years I have noticed that more and more men not only initiate hand-shakes with me, but also then quite often painfully grip my hand and work my arm like a pump handle. Other than lying and saying I’m a germaphobe, what can I do to stop this? I was taught that the female will initiate the handshake and that if she does, the male is not supposed to do much more than lightly clasp it and then let go. I’m more than a little tired of coming out of business meetings with bruised hands. Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.

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Country Girl August 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

While you are correct that a man SHOULD take the woman’s lead, in business many times it is a compliment that a man wants to firmly shake your hand like an equal. And as you said, I would never suggest forgoing a handshake all together, unless you have a contagious illness, as that can be misinterpreted very easily.

I was taught a trick a while back, I can’t honestly remember where, but it works in eliminating much of the pain from a “too firm” grasp. When shaking a man’s hand extend your pointer and middle fingers, which will rest gently on the man’s inner wrist. You can practice with a friend or significant other, and when he applies the same squeezing pressure for both the typical grasp and your extending your two fingers you should be able to notice a big difference.

A tip for blocking the wild pumping shake may be to gently clasp the outside of the person’s hand with your left hand which is a both considered warm greeting and will allow you to be more in control of the pumping motion.

I have also heard of women who will grasp only near the finger tips of a man, cutting him off before a full hand-on-hand shake. Although this comes across as awkward feeling to me. =)

Bottom line, practice and see what feels comfortable for you. And if a man is wildly out of control with his hand shake you can smile and say “Oh my goodness you have a firm handshake.” Which is not an insult but should clue him in that he is being too rough.

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Winifred Rosenburg August 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm

You’re half right. The rule about women initiating handshakes only applies to social situations. In business situations the higher-ranked person initiates the handshake. Country Girl seems to have a good handle on how to deal.

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Country Girl August 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Yes, Winifred is correct. I apoloigize I didn’t see that I hadn’t stated very clearly that I had meant the man should take the woman’s lead for “strength” of shake. But you are correct, in business higher ranked takes the lead in initiating.

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