How to Give a Manly Handshake [VIDEO]

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 8, 2013 · 42 Comments

in On Etiquette, Visual Guides

It’s time for another installment of AoM Instructional Videos. In this edition, Bill learns how to shake hands like a man.

For more info on shaking hands, make sure to check out our illustrated guide to giving a manly handshake.

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Video by Jordan Crowder

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steve June 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Great vid, accurate and fun. As a cleric, I shake a LOT of hands, male and female; I would only add two things: when shaking with a woman, keep your eyes on her eyes, not on her chest; be sensitive to the grip pressure you’re getting and match it. Also, love to see something on the “bro” variations: fist bumps, half-hugs, etc. etc. that, in my mind, are not appropriate for work but are rife in manly casual life.

2 Mike Lally June 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Love the video! I would only add one tip: when you shake hands, LOOK THE PERSON IN THE EYES. Do not, under any circumstances, do the “look away”. Jesus Tap Dancing Christ, I hate when I shake someone’s hands and they turn their head away and/or avert their eyes! You may gaze upon me and not turn to stone! :)

3 Sean June 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm

“emasculated mass of inanity” is the best insult I’ve ever heard

4 Charles Aulds June 9, 2013 at 5:33 am

John Bridges covers this topic well in his book “How to Be a Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy” (2008). I love the way time-honored practices of social behavior are still relevant. No matter what we do, it seems, all of us need a certain centre of gravity to keep us grounded. :-)

5 aaron June 9, 2013 at 7:09 am

I’ll also add that a gentleman extends his hand with fingers aligned vertically and palm straight out to the side. This allows the other person to reciprocate as an equal, as if to say that the handshake is greeting and offer of peace that recognizes the essential democratic humanity of both parties. A handshake extended palm down really puts me off – i feel like that person would be more pleased if i kissed their hand than if i shook it!

6 Rob June 9, 2013 at 7:38 am

I love these videos, they’re fantastic, although I do feel a little sorry for Bill sometimes.

7 Robert June 9, 2013 at 7:42 am

Great video….thanks!


8 Matt June 9, 2013 at 8:10 am

So you don’t tickle the inside of the palm with your finger? Got it.

9 Remy Sheppard June 9, 2013 at 8:29 am

It’s crazy because I wrote a post on this a few years ago, but just reposted it a few days ago. I called it ‘Establish A Line’.

This is a great video, covers it all.

10 Ned June 9, 2013 at 8:35 am

Sean, I loved that comment too!
“emasculated mass of inanity”

11 Jimmie D June 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

The only thing I’d like to add is, always stand up when giving/receiving a handshake. Always try and be on the same “level” as the other person.

But Bill has already demonstrated this correctly during the end of the video.

12 Mat June 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

What about when the other guy’s hand is much larger than yours? I find that a big size difference in hands makes it difficult to give a good handshake.

13 jd June 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

Love this site and the handshake video was spot on. Use of comedy and nostalgia was just right. We joke, but the proper handshake really is a dying art. Dad always said you could tell the caliber of a man by his handshake. I’m a school teacher and try to throw in these little lessons when I can. It can’t hurt. Bravo, gentlemen. Keep up the good work.

14 Steve C June 9, 2013 at 11:03 am

The production values alone make this video worth the time to watch. You absolutely nailed the 1950s instructional video style, even down to “Narrator’s Man’s” voice. Bill is great! Keep them coming, AOM. And the instruction was good, too.

15 Duncan June 9, 2013 at 11:20 am

I love your videos Brett, great content. I might just add one thing and that is a gentleman should not extend his hand to a lady unless she first extends hers, and no tickling the inside of her palm Matt. LOL!!

16 James June 9, 2013 at 11:45 am

Many people have conditions like arthritis in their hands and grip pressure will cause pain. If you tense your hand muscles just prior to gripping to make your hand firm, and then lightly grip and match the other person’s grip pressure, you will give the impression of a firm handshake without causing pain.

17 Adrian Sanabria (@sawaba) June 9, 2013 at 12:16 pm

It is common for an Arab handshake to last a LOOOOONG time, so don’t be surprised if hands are still clasped well into your initial conversation, even after introductions. Don’t try to withdraw your hand, it will make you seem like you lack confidence or are untrustworthy. Very different culture over there. It is quite awkward the first few times – I had a hard time not pulling my hand back after the first few seconds.

18 kirk June 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Shaking a woman’s hand is different though. Growing up you didn’t do that. I just try to base it on the age of the person. If she is a baby boomer or old I don’t offer a handshake unless its offered first.

“emasculated mass of inanity” is great much better than saying “pansy”

19 Dustin June 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Quick question, is it of proper ettiquite to grasp the elbow of the hand shaker? I’ve seen the older generation do it a few times but not really in the younger age.

20 Rick June 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm

In recent years, I have found myself offering my hand at a 45 degree angle with the palm turned upward. No idea why I am doing this. Any thoughts?

21 Rob June 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Nice work. As stated, there are definitely cultural differences, and when shaking hands with an Indian (call center–not casino), remember to avoid using a crushing grip.

22 ARP June 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

If you’re nervous due to a job interview, important meeting, etc. and have cold clammy hands, try to go to the bathroom just before the meeting and wash your hands with soap and as hot of water as you can tolerate. Dry your hands thoroughly and that should buy you about 15 minutes or so of dry, warm hands.

23 Jim L. June 10, 2013 at 7:23 am

I was always taught growing up that a man never offers to shake a woman’s hand. He instead waits until she offers her hand.

24 OkieRover June 10, 2013 at 7:41 am

OMG that was awesome. Very well done.

25 Jeff June 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Typically, the senior party is supposed to extend his hand first. Not only are you supposed to wait for an older gentleman to greet you, but you are responsible for greeting those younger than you. And, as previously mentioned, wait for a lady to extend her hand.

26 Colin J June 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm

A simple but oh-so-important topic. My wife and I both can’t stand weird or wimpy hand shakes. We even call a guy we both know “fish hands”. Yeah. I don’t even know his real name. He’s just fish hands. And that’s sad for him.

27 Jameel June 10, 2013 at 7:17 pm

A few people have commented about the angle of the palm when shaking a hand. I can’t remember where I read it, but you should keep your palm facing slightly upward when offering your hand. It shows you are not hiding anything, although I’m sure this is probably more related to body language rather than anything physically in your hand.

Anyone know how to deal with a premature hand closer? You don’t get enough time to get the web to web contact, so he’s just shaking your fingers… awkwardly.

28 Quigath June 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Hand tilt advice:
During the shake, whichever party has their hand on top is the more dominant of the two. It can be a power play or just respect.
If you extend your hand with palm facing upward (even slightly), you are submitting to or allowing the other person to be dominant. This may be a sign of respect on your part, and acknowledgement of actual lower status, or a sign of your insecurity.
Turning your hand down, or turning your hand down mid-shake, so theirs is below yours, can signal your intent to be dominant, or higher status, etc. I once had an 70-year-old grandma do this to me. Her hand was almost completely horizontal over mine. I let her shake it that way instead of turning vertical. I thought it was great that she had my respect enough to do that.

A man however, should meet other men as his peer. A solid, completely vertical, shake is the best policy and will help each of you to feel at ease while meeting each other as men.

This has been my experience only so let me know if I’m misinterpreting anything here. I really do enjoy a good handshake.

29 Ara Bedrossian June 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Hey, have you posted anything on how to give a proper massage to your ladyfriend/signficant other?
I imagine there’d be some interest in that…what do you say, guys?

30 Steve June 11, 2013 at 9:02 pm

In my fencing coach days, I worked with a bear of a man, a French maitre d’escrime who, in European fashion, shook hands every day. I learned quickly to slam my hand into his, thumb joint web to thumb joint web, and squeeze hard out of sheer self-preservation. He had forearms like Popeye and didn’t know his own strength. Incidentally, my wife, who spent years in business and the law, shakes hands with real presence and can’t stand the “dead fish” grip–she instantly writes off such a guy!

31 Andrew June 12, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Great video on the art of shaking hands, @ Brett Mckay you should do videos on barbershops since they are talked about here at art of manliness.

32 Jake June 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Increasingly I find that people do a grasp rather than shake. That is, no up/down pump. It is a bit more unisex.

33 Steve June 12, 2013 at 11:04 pm

It’s surprising how many men don’t realise that the handshake is the very first impression you give of yourself when you first meet someone. A weak/limp handshake is one of the most obvious signs that you lack confidence, and can often make or break the deal when trying to land a sale or job. I find that the only exception to that rule is men who recently arrived from Asian cultures, where bowing is the traditional greeting, and have simply never been taught how to shake hands.

34 Steve June 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm

@Jameel, I too would like to know how to respond in situations where the other person closes their hand prematurely, and ends up shaking your fingers. It seems that certain men do it on a regular basis.

35 Pedro June 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I could watch these videos forever…

36 Gwen June 14, 2013 at 8:08 am

Interesting comments about the differences in shaking hands with women. Do men really change what they do? Maybe that explains all the limp fish handshakes I get. That’s a little bit annoying. I have serious grip strength for a woman, and was taught in school to shake hands well to make a good impression.

37 StephenBB81 June 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I really enjoyed this.
As an outside sales person I am meeting and shaking hands with people from C levels to counter staff and follow the rules pretty consistently.

reading the comments I don’t really agree with the not shaking a womans hand, or with changing your style when in a professional situation, though in a non professional situation I will offer my hand more delicately.

I read a comment about grasping ones elbow. it is a power move. rarely done in my experience as the fight for dominate hand position is known well enough that it isn’t needed.

Though a grasp of the Elbow while holding a prolonged shake very much gets the point across that you are the Alpha and you are not going to take any crap. best reserved for fathers meeting their daughters prom dates.

38 Antonio July 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm

My professor once demonstrated to me different types of hand shakes and how they project your personality. A handshake with your hand more horizontal and on top of the others hand signifies dominance and confidence. One where you extend your other hand and hold the binded hands while shaking shows kindness and compassion(often a pastor or the pope is seen performing this technique) lastly a horizontal handshake with our hand beneath the other’s hand shows submission, respect, and loyalty good for diffusing tense situations.

39 Devin Young August 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm

It is a good thing to remember that there are times when a “business man” handshake is useful such as Soccer Matches, Business Meetings with competitors, or really anytime you are in a semi-agressive setting. Also when shaking a women’s hand you should be sure to match or go a little bit over her strength and keep it short, but not pulling away. Also half hugs are not proper for a formal setting.

40 Talon August 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

I think there’s a lot of difficulty for some men trying to be a gentleman while interacting with women in business and social situations in today’s world. I’m a professional business woman and do a lot of sales. I’m also a leader of a social group. So I meet a lot of people and shake a lot of hands both professionally and socially. It’s a custom I like.

One thing that I (and other women that I’ve discussed this with) find irritating is when I offer my hand in a vertical palm to the side thumb up position, the other party will grab my finger tips. I try not to be insulted by this and generally write it off to poor training but there’s always a suspicion that this person will let my gender influence our business relationship. It would be different if a woman offers her finger in a palm down fingers at an angle position. But frankly I wouldn’t have any respect for a woman doing that… especially in a professional environment.

Don’t offer your hand to my male partner or male co-worker but not offer it to me. When you do shake my hand, look me in the eye, not my chest.

I’ve had men turn my hand and kiss it. In my opinion this is inappropriate when first meeting a woman. There’s a bit of an eww factor there. However, I have a friend who I’ve know for many years who kisses my hand and always asks permission first.

41 Robert Crough October 14, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I was really put off recently when I extended my hand to my wife’s nephew for a handshake and he reached out his hand. When we shook hands he turned his mostly “palms down” so mine was almost facing “palms up” and it was a very brief handshake. After reading online, by the type of handshake, it appears that he wanted to be dominant and thought I was inferior, or maybe he does not even realize he was doing it. He is a new Marine and is still very young so I’m not sure if they may have taught him that, or maybe he is arrogant and thinks he is “all-that”. I almost wish I would have said something to him, but I may not even see him again for several years. If he tries to shake a hand of his CO like that I think he will get a talking to.

42 Luke February 2, 2014 at 3:52 am

Also, it’s important not to extend your hand to a lady, or to anyone of higher social rank. While business women rightly wish to be treated as equals in the workplace, our traditional culture elevates women to a higher status (hence the opening of doors for women, ladies first, etc.). If you already are the ladies-first type of gentleman, it’s imperative not to extend your hand until she does! It’s a severe faux pas. We see this sort of stratification of rank in the military quite plainly: I’ll never extend my hand to a general. I have to wait for him to do me the honor of extending his hand to me in order that I may be elevated for a moment to his level. Shaking hands is a greeting among equals. If a socially ranking superior (and thus also a woman) wishes to extend his or her hand and acknowledge our inane universal human equality, it’s up to the superior. Be conscious of that.
Think also how you would never extend your hand to the president or a king. You wait for them to offer.

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