What a handshake reveals

Posted May 18, 2011

What a handshake reveals

Nick Hewer, who is Lord Sugar’s right-hand man on the Apprentice, has confirmed my suspicions: Ed Miliband has “the weakest handshake in western Europe”. Oh dear! How can you respect a man who can’t get to grips with something as basic as a handshake? I mean, how hard can it be?

Well, maybe it’s a bit trickier than you think. There are so many variations on the handshake ranging from the charming to the downright creepy.

Let’s start with the creepy. What about the one where the man presses his thumb against the knuckle joints of your hand? I’ve had this happen to me on a number of occasions and I still can’t figure if it’s the secretive freemason’s handshake or some weird mating ritual.

One that also factors high in the creepy charts is the ‘patronising shake’.  This is when a man firmly clamps his other hand over the one you have extended to him. This is an embarrassing hand lock from which it’s very hard to escape. There is no subtle way to prise your trapped hand away from his vice-like hold.

Then there is the ‘sideways crush’ from the man who fails to recognise his own strength. This one is particularly painful if you, the recipient, are wearing a large cocktail ring. It is bad manners to squeal during a handshake. In this scenario all you can do is grit your teeth and accept the imprint left on your skin by said cocktail ring.

But worst of all is ‘the jolt’. This is when you are greeted with a shake of your hand so violent that it travels, like a tsunami wave, the length of your arm and into your upper body. It leaves you quivering like a jelly.

And the charming? Well, that’s got to be the schmoozy hand kiss, as perfected by Prince Charles. According to www.kissing.net, a kiss on the hand symbolises friendship. So it seems appropriate that Charles kisses the hands of the wives of visiting heads of states. But a trifle odd when he greets his mother with a hand kiss as he did at the recent royal wedding. And what about the iconic photograph of him kissing Diana’s hand when they were honeymooning at Balmoral? At the time, we all took this as being a sign of old fashioned gallantry. Maybe it was an early indication that he was fond of her but didn’t love her.

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