Proper Handshake Etiquette | How To Give A Good Handshake

The impression you make on people through your handshake influences how they feel about you and the way they respond to you. Let’s look at the importance of a proper handshake and how to get it right.

proper handshake

My first encounter with Mr. Joel (a client of mine) was over the phone. His voice was deep, powerful and husky, so my assumption based on his voice tone was that he was a confident person with a strong personality and character. So much for that first impression

We arranged for a style consultation meeting to discuss further on his wardrobe needs and other details. Fast forward three days later, we met at my office. Now, when I got up to give Mr. Joel a handshake, his handshake was so weak and feeble. It was as if I was shaking my little boy’s hands – for a moment I felt this wasn’t the same man I spoke with over the phone a few days earlier.

I couldn’t fathom how someone with a deep, husky voice would have such a weak handshake – no energy, no squeeze – a complete “dead fish” handshake. It was obvious Mr. Joel didn’t know the impression he was making by shaking my hands with such weakness and feeble grip.


He was certainly not aware of the fact that a handshake is a nonverbal form of communication and that the manner in which someone extends his or her hands and the degree of firmness demonstrates how confident the person is and can influence how the discussion or relationship proceeds afterward.

This article is meant to give awareness to this topic – “The Importance of a proper handshake”, which is rarely discussed. I hope that as you read this, you will learn to always give a proper handshake in order to consistently create a positive impression on others at all times.

ALSO READ: 7 Ways To Make a Great First Impression


proper handshake

  1. Handshakes really do matter. A bad handshake can affect someone’s opinion of you while a proper handshake is a sign of strength. Everyone (including ladies) should always deliver a firm and proper handshake.
  2. Every opportunity you have to shake someone is a perfect opportunity to make a great first impression. This might just be the deciding factor whether the conversation is going to be a positive one or not.
  3. Most employers say that when considering which candidate to choose from 2 or more equally good candidates, the handshake is usually a deciding factor after their dress sense. A weak handshake could signify that a person is not confident. Which employer wants an employee with a weak handshake for a client facing role? Your guess is as good as mine.




proper handshake

1. Be Prepared:
  • When you meet someone for the first time, always shake their hands with your right hand.
  • If you are holding anything on your right hand shift it to your left in advance. If your hands are sweaty – ensure your hand is dry and if your hand is cold from holding a cold drink, wipe it with a clean handkerchief … whatever the case is, just be prepared.


2. Don’t wait for the other party to extend his or her hands first:
  • Get up (if you are seated), stretch out your hand and present a firm and proper handshake while giving a good eye contact and a genuine smile. This shows you are a confident and friendly person.


3. Place your hand firmly in the palm of the other party:
  • Hold firm (but not too tight), squeeze once, pump twice or thrice, and then release your grip after about a 3 seconds. Try not to hold on more than three seconds, ‘cos it could make the other party uncomfortable.
  • Within the 3 seconds, you should say something – A greeting, a compliment or a comment on something you both have in common. Once you release, continue your conversation.
4. 2 to 3 pumps is fine:
  • Shake from the elbow (never from the wrist) in an up and down pumping motion. If you are meeting someone for the first time, 2 or 3 pumps is appropriate, if it’s a close buddy, family, and friends, you could increase the pumps to 4 – 5 pumps and feel free to include hugs, pats on the back, fist bump and high five!

ALSO READ: 4 Powerful Ways To Boost Your Confidence



proper handshake

  • Always be prepared to give a proper handshake with your right hand (never with your left hand).
  • In addition, do not use your left hand to touch the other person’s arm or shoulder, especially in business settings. It can be perceived as you being domineering.
  • Don’t seat down when shaking hands with someone. Always rise and face the person fully.
  • The position of your palm should be at an angle of 90 degrees, neither facing up (signifying submission) nor facing down (signifying dominance). Your thumb should always be pointing up.

firm and proper handshake

  • Always give eye contact and smile, but don’t overdo it, else it could appear you are so eager.
  • Your hands should always be out of your pockets, this makes you appear more open and welcoming.
  • You should consider matching the pressure of the other person’s grip while shaking hands.
  • The only exception when you have to reduce your firmness of your handshake a bit is when you are greeting an older woman or a child. Otherwise, always give a firm and proper handshake.





 1. Avoid the clammy handshake (also known as the “cold and clammy” handshake):

This handshake is characterized by sweaty palms and is usually a sign of a nervous or an insecure person. If your palms get sweaty naturally, you should take care of this by always having a clean handkerchief to use to wipe off the sweats. If your palm gets sweaty from you holding a cold drink, switch your drinks to your left hand so you would not be passing the wrong information. Whatever you have to do to keep your hands dry at all times.

how to give a firm and proper handshake

2. Avoid the “Bone-crushing” handshake:

This form of handshake will squeeze the living life out of you. Usually, the person will squeeze your hand until you cringe or scream. This person generally tries to dominate the situation, they are insecure and try to make up for this by giving a bone-crushing handshake.

Don’t go in with this type of handshake and if you find yourself in this situation – say something like “Ouch! What a strong grip you have” and then at the same time, reach with your left hand and place it on the person’s right hand applying same pressure, usually, the person will loosen his grip.

how to give a firm and proper handshake

3. Avoid “The Dead Fish” Handshake:

This is the worst kind of handshake and is synonymous to low self-esteem.  This handshake is characterized by a limp and lifeless handshake with no energy and no squeeze. The person who offers this handshake barely shakes the other party’s hands, so it gives the feeling that you are holding a dead fish. I’m pretty sure you must have witnessed this type of handshake before.

how to give a firm and proper handshake



There you have it, you’ve learned today that a person may be perceived as confident because he or she has a firm hand­shake. You might have been guilty of a bad handshake without realizing it. Perhaps it could have been affecting you negatively especially when the opportunity to make a great first impression presents itself.

Now you’ve learned what to do and what not to do, practice your handshake daily and at every opportunity, you have (with your friends and family) till you get used to it.

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Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time…Have a very stylish day!


Yours in Style,

Kobi O. Mbagwu (Mr. Kobi)
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Mr. Kobi

I am Mr. Kobi, a professional style consultant, menswear blogger & entrepreneur who uses fashion to change people’s lives. My personal goal is to help gentlemen dress better, live well, do well and develop a unique personal style that matches with their lifestyle and goals. I believe that success can be built through style. I believe that fashion is a tool that can be used to change people’s lives positively. I strongly believe that if you dress well, you look good, and if you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you worry less, and the less you worry the more you are able to stay motivated and focused in your goals pursuit and by so doing you are able to live a more fulfilling and successful life.
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