When I was a young lad, my old gran taught me how to shake hands: Decent grip, but not too tight; good eye contact; sincere smile; early release. Once I’d ‘grasped’ the basics, we moved on to the advanced level, in which she taught me the other techniques people employ when shaking hands.
Writers are always heading out to conventions, conferences and other writerly-type gatherings, so being the helpful chap I am, I thought I’d produce them here in this ‘handy’ guide.
1. GLUE HANDS
The handshake starts off well, but for some reason, the other party just won’t let go. They keep on talking, punctuating each sentence with a slight pump of your hand. In the end you have to pull free.
2. THE BONE-CRUSHER McNOONY
This was my old gran's speciality. These greeters use a handshake as a way to show how tough they are. They squeeze your hand so tight, you wonder what you did to make them so mad at you (except in the case of my old gran, in which case she'd already told you).
3. THE LIMP NOODLE
Somewhere between ‘Hello’ and the actual handshake, these folks forget to tense their fingers. Result: You feel like you’re holding lukewarm (often somewhat damp) sausages.
4. THE LADY DOO-DAH
The hand comes towards you. Too late, you realize the fingers still point to the floor. You don’t know if you’re expected to kiss the hand or curtsey, so you end up holding the other person’s fist.
5. THE VENUS FLY TRAP
Timing’s the issue with this handshake. As soon as you get within reach, these folks grab hold. You’re left feeling a little embarrassed as they shake the top half of your fingers rather than your hand.
6. THE DRIVE-BY GREETING
The grip’s okay, the smile sincere, but even as they reach out to shake your hand, these folks are scanning over your shoulder to see if anyone more interesting turned up.
7. THE ‘I’M NOT TOUCHING THAT.’
Sometimes it’s a phobia, sometimes it’s an insult. Either way, you’re left feeling a little silly when you've extended your hand and it becomes clear they’re not going to take it.
8. THE THUMB WRESTLER
You think you’re going to shake hands, but these folks have other ideas. The palm-slide, knuckle bump, thumb press technique can be great fun, but the first time someone hits you with it, you wonder if they think you’re a freemason.
9. THE WALLFLOWER
These folks are shy. The good intent is there, but not the eye contact. They get ten out of ten for stepping up to the plate, but something in their demeanor screams ‘I’m not comfortable with this!’
I think that’s all of them. Let me know if I missed any. In the meantime, Happy Shaking!
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