Some experts say it’s the hands – not the eyes – that are the window into one’s soul. They believe that the hands provide the greatest insight into a person’s true character. Trump’s hands have been in the spotlight since last spring when Governor Rubio questioned their size and claimed they appeared rather small for a man of his stature. Over the course of the election, President-elect Trump’s hands were analyzed, scrutinized and mocked by commentators as well as comedians. From the entertaining way he used his hands to emphasize a point to his noticeable apprehension with handshakes in general, it is evident that the art of handshaking was not one of his strong suits. In his book, The Art of the Comeback, he declared shaking hands as ‘barbaric’ and ‘one of the curses of American society’ further stating that, ‘the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get.” While certain parts of the world suffering from the spread of disease would find handshaking unwise and unhealthy, here in America, shaking hands is simply a sign of respect. Here’s a breakdown of President Trump’s pump – the good, the bad, and the ugly – along with a primer on how to properly shake hands with anyone, anywhere, anytime.
The President’s Pump (& Pull)
We’ve noticed two types of handshakes that fall into the category of bad and ugly. When President Trump hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the White House recently, the media had a field day with the awkward looking nineteen-second long seated greeting. The grip looked more like a grab and gave the appearance that the President was pulling the Prime Minister’s hand into submission. A similar grip was used with Vice-President Pence as well as several other of the President’s appointees. Once again, these handshakes resembled more of an aggressive pump and pull rather than two seamless, smooth pumps.
The most universal gesture for greeting another person anywhere in the world is the handshake. It is often the first contact we have with someone new. To shake hands properly, extend the right hand and place your palm sideways. Extend the fingers away from you with the thumb facing up. Locate the web area (the space between the index finger and the thumb) and meet the recipients hand web-to-web. Shake with two smooth pumps and then release. The whole arm does not need to move, only the forearm from the elbow down. Your grip should be firm, not too strong, and not dangling like a limp fish.
Bad Shake Syndrome
- The Wet Fish – This handshake grips only the tips of the fingers and feels distant and aloof as if the person isn’t truly interested in making your acquaintance.
- The Bone Cruncher – This handshake hurts as if the person is intentionally trying to create pain. It leaves a negative impression that the person has something to prove or that they are trying to wield their power over you.
- The Thumb Pincher – This handshake digs into a sensitive pressure point by pressing down too firmly with their thumb. The person offering this type of handshake is perceived as nervous or slightly uncomfortable.
- The Never Ending Shake – This handshake lasts forever creating a guessing game as to when someone will let go. The person who offers this handshake appears overly enthusiastic and a way too eager.
Just the Facts
- Ladies First – In social settings, a lady should always initiate the handshake because a man should never presume a lady wishes to make physical contact of any kind.
- Stop Signals – If you happen to encounter an endless handshake, simply release the tension of your grip. This will send a non-verbal signal that the handshake has officially ended.
- The Upper Hand – The person who extends their hand first is perceived to be the most confident and have control of the situation.
- Stand & Deliver – Unless physically unable, a person always stands for a handshake. It is a sign of deference.
- Sweaty Palms Alert – Suffering from sweaty palms may ruin a perfectly good handshake. An easy remedy is to carry a cloth that can absorb sweat in your pocket or purse. Gently touch the cloth before shaking somebody’s hands. At events where one is expected to shake a lot of hands, try rubbing some unscented antiperspirant on your palms prior to the engagement.
The Business Arena. A strong emphasis is placed on a firm handshake because it speaks loudly about credibility, confidence, and professionalism. Make sure every meeting begins and ends with a handshake. In a professional setting, it doesn’t matter who offers a hand first, however, the person who extends a hand first typically has an advantage because it shows initiative and is perceived as being in control.
A Personal Affront. Neglecting another person’s hand is regarded as one of the most impolite offenses. Unless you have the Swine flu, Whooping Cough or some other contagious infection or disease, always accept an offer to shake hands. If you are particularly worried about germs, run to the restroom to disinfect or douce yourself with Purell.
For Your Eyes Only. A handshake means nothing without making good eye contact. It is second sign of respect. When shaking hands, give the person your undivided attention by looking them straight in the eyes as if they are the only person in the room.