The handshake is the crucible of the business world. Deliver a memorable handshake and you’ll land that new client and be bumped up the list for a promotion. Deliver a flop and you’ll be the laughing-stock of the office and probably get fired – if you don’t quit first, that is, on account of the ensuing psychological abuse. You can already hear your coworkers taunting you, can’t you? “Hey, Jim. Nice handshake at the pitch last week. I’m sure it had nothing to do with us not getting the account, you douche bag.”
Here are ten handshakes that, when employed judiciously, will demonstrate to one and all that you’re a winner, not a douche bag! Use these shakes to make new friends at the office and win over new clients. But always remember that “the most important element of a good handshake is sincerity,” as the renowned handshake expert Rheinhold Dilfer once famously instructed.
THE GENTLEMAN: This handshake began at Dartmouth in the early 1800s and has since become the preeminent handshake of Western civilization. With the palm of your right hand perpendicular to the floor, meet the person’s approaching hand with yours, keeping your thumb pointing skyward on the way so that it catches the L of the other person’s hand. Clasp hands, gently move your forearm up and down, and then release. The Gentleman lasts for a total of two seconds, three seconds tops. Most of the handshakes still practiced today, including all of those listed below, have their origins in The Gentleman.
THE TICKLER: This is the go-to shake when meeting someone for the first time. It consists of lovingly tickling the other person’s palm with your pinkie finger. It’s especially good for interviews – whether you’re the interviewer or interviewee – and for getting to know your in-laws. The angle of the hand isn’t as important as the thoroughness of the tickling.
THE MAESTRO: As soon as contact is made, lift the other person’s hand in the air and then move it from side to side, like the person’s hand is a baton and you’re the conductor. While safe and effective in all business settings, do try to avoid executing The Maestro on anybody over 70 years of age.
THE SPICY TUNA: This one is something of a catchall for any handshake involving foodstuffs. The Spicy Tuna thrives on improvisation.
THE BALL BUSTER: This one’s pretty straightforward. As soon as contact is made, start squeezing the person’s hand as hard as you can. The Ball Buster is great to use on the new guy at work, not to mention your girlfriend’s disapproving sister.
THE SPANKER (a.k.a. THE SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN): Engage the other person’s hand with The Gentleman and then, without warning, spank it with your free hand. This one really gets the blood flowing and is a great way to refocus your audience if the pitch or meeting gets off to a rocky start.
THE SCHNAUZER: As soon as the shake begins, start licking the other person’s hand. Keep this shake on reserve, pulling it out only when you’re at your most desperate. The Schnauzer works best if you have a beard.
THE EEL: This the ideal shake for aquatic environments. Whether you’re on your boss’s speedboat or about to take a shower with a potential client, I strongly recommend that you go with The Eel. Just mimic the movement of an eel with your arm once the shake begins. The other person will love it! If the goal of the given shake is to intimidate, however, I suggest you crank it up a notch and go with the THE ELECTRIC EEL, which calls for a “bzzzz” sound from your mouth and a jerk or two of your arm.
THE COMMODORE: I left this one for last because it’s the hardest to master and should not be attempted by just anyone. Immediately after the shake has commenced, make circles with your hand like you’re mixing cookie dough, bringing the person’s hand along for the ride. Be sure to always move your hand clockwise, as trying to go counter-clockwise could really offend somebody. While you’re making the circles, start turning your palm downward so that by the end of the shake it’s facing the floor. This way the other person will be left moving his hand like he’s rubbing the tummy of a beautiful baby giraffe.
A good handshake could mean the difference between a six-figure salary and severe psychological trauma. Dazzle people with your handshakes and there’ll be no stopping you!