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How to offer the best handshakes

· French Etiquette

Do you ever wonder what to do when meeting a Westerner ? While in China, physical contact is usually limited in daily life, in the West, the handshake is the most common greeting between two persons who meet on any kind of occasion.

Sometimes it is better to keep handshakes simple or there is a big risk of awkwardness !

The way you shake hands says a lot about you and can elevate you in the eyes of the person you are shaking hands with, as making a good first impression is essential in any social or business situations. Let’s learn the proper technique !

Should I offer my hand first ?

In Europe, men will usually wait for women to make the first move

As as a guest, you will usually wait for the other person to initiate the handshake, especially when meeting women. For example, if you are entering a meeting room where your business partners are waiting for you, wait for them to offer their hands to you.

In a job interview, the interviewer decides whether to shake hands or not

If you initiate the handshake first and realize you should not have had, don’t withdraw your hand which would be very rude and awkward. Follow through with confidence, handshake with a smile and continue without apologizing.

Use your right hand

A handshake is almost always done using right hands. If you or the other person have a special reason such as injury or handicap, you shall use the left hand. Be focused on which hand the other person is offering so that you can show the same hand without hesitation.

Tapping the other person’s hand with the left hand can make a more friendly handshak

When shaking with the right hand, don’t leave your left hand in your pocket which makes you look defensive or distrustful. In business occasions, refrain from using your left hand to tap the other person’s hand, arm or shoulder, unless you have a friendly relationship with that person.

Shake hands firmly without hurting the other

The firmness in a handshake is a keypoint and a question of balance. The handshake should not be weak, as it will make you look like a shy, uninterested or even incompetent person. At the same time, it should not be bone-crushing, nor overpowering.

Donalp Trump’s dominating handshakes are definitely not a good example to follow

It is also important to adjust the firmness while you shake hands. If you feel the other person is offering you a limp hand, shake more softly (but not weakly) or grip more firmly if the other person is offering you a strong handshake.

Always stand up

There is nothing worse than shaking hands with somebody who is sitting while you are standing. If you are sitting, always rise before offering your hand, which will put you at the same level as the other person.

Look at the other person in the eye

Sincere eye contact is key when shaking hands with someone. This will make you look trustworthy and will help establishing a respectful relationship. Offer a genuine smile at the same time and never lookdown.

Don’t shake hands for too long

Another terribly long and awkward handshake from D.Trump to E.Macron in Paris, 2017

Shaking hands in China can sometimes last for a longer time than what one would do in the West. Indeed, a handshake should not last for more than 3 seconds, otherwise this would become uncomfortable. If the other person shakes your hand for too long, you can politely withdraw it.

Greet and introduce yourself

In a business occasion, the one initiating the handshake should first introduce his/her name and position before or while shaking hands : « Alain Blanc, sales manager, nice to meet you » and the other person will follow using the same structure. Be focused to be able to remember the name later !

If you are meeting someone important for the first time and you have nice things to say, include them during the handshake, such as « It’s so great to finally meet you, M. Blanc » (note that it is best to use Mister or Miss followed by the person’s last name, instead of repeating the full name).

Does it sound complicated to you ? If it does, practice with your friend before important meetings, as proper handshakesare the starting point of any durable and sincere relationship !

Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.

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