4 Types of Handshakes (And When to Use Them)

4 Types of Handshakes (And When to Use Them)

The first impression others have of you is influenced by many things. Their preconceptions, the circumstances under which you meet, your appearance, tone, word choice, and style of greeting etc. And it’s important to consider all of these when you prepare for a meeting. However, many people overlook the importance of how you greet each other.

The style of greeting you use will likely depend on your specific business context. Some cultures may favour a kiss on each cheek, others a polite bow. In many western and international business settings, a handshake will be your primary style of greeting. This article will explore four common types of handshakes, and which situations they’re best suited for.

4 Types of Handshakes (And When to Use Them)

The Shug

The handshake and hug. One hand grasps the other person’s hand, while your other arm goes around his or her shoulder. It is less formal than a handshake, and adds some of the familiarity of a hug. It portrays friendliness and openness, while still maintaining the formality of a handshake.

Who to Use it With

This is a good option to use with people you’re already comfortable with. If you feel they’d be comfortable receiving a hug from you, then you can use the shug! It can also be a good middle ground for people who you’re not quite on hugging terms with, but who you feel close to and are comfortable being around.

You’ll need to read the situation though, as some people aren’t huggers and might not like the added proximity. Gender-norms will also come into play here. Consider whether this level of contact is typical between genders where you are at.

Double Handed

This handshake requires two hands to execute. One hand grasps the other person’s hand while the other hand goes on his/her hand or forearm. The level of placement of your second hand represents the closeness of the bond you share. This greeting is more formal than a shug, but warmer than a standard handshake. It is often perceived as being friendly, trustworthy and honest.

Who to Use it With

The double handed handshake sits well between a shug and a standard handshake. It is suitable for professional acquaintances that you have built a strong relationship with. It is unlikely to offend, however always consider your specific situation and cultural context to make the best possible decision.

Professional & Balanced

This is the universal handshake – two shakes, with a firm (but not too firm) grip, lasting from 3-6 seconds before releasing. Ensure that the handshake is equally balanced, where both hands involved are vertically side by side. Thumbs should be locked around each other’s upper hand with fingers having a firm grip. Be sure to reciprocate the same amount of pressure you are receiving from the other person’s hand to not come across as domineering or power-playing.

Who to Use it With

This handshake can be used almost universally, especially in professional environments. Just be sure to not enact it with your loved ones/close friends as you might be inviting distance into your relationships!

When you’re doing business cross-culturally, be considerate of cultures where contact between genders is inappropriate. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from one of your local business partners or an Intercultural Management Training provider like Akteos.

Fist Bump

While not technically a handshake, the fist bump is increasingly being used in its place. It’s an informal form of greeting/celebration that may have originated in the boxing ring. The first bump has gain popularity following its use by celebrities, and is regarded as more hygienic than a handshake due to the reduced skin contact. Phrases phrases like “put it there” or expressions of satisfaction often accompany a fist bump.

Who to Use it With

Despite its merits, the fist bump can be confusing for people who are unfamiliar with it. There is no shortage of awkward pictures and videos of people misreading situations, and offering a high-five or handshake in response to an attempted fist bump.

You can use the fist bump in less formal settings, such as when greeting close colleagues or friends. To avoid unnecessary embarrassment, use this when you’re confident that the other person has already mastered the fist bump or when you’re in a less public setting.

We’ll Let You Decide

Be aware of the situation you’re in. Learn to read people’s body language to accurately determine the style of greeting that will be appropriate. Good luck!

Your Career Management Experts,



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