how do you shake it?

I’ve always thought that shaking hands when you meet someone for the first time is the polite thing to do. Of course, there are situations when you either don’t do it, or you really don’t feel like doing it. One would be if the other person has obvious hygiene issues and you wouldn’t touch him or her even with a ten-foot pole. Or you are in possession of an amazing, out-of-this-world pervert radar and you suspect that he or she would rape your hand; how it’s done, I have no idea so go ask someone else. Or you are in a country where public physical contact for something as innocent as a handshake between a man and a woman is frowned upon, or worse, might get you stoned to death. Maybe you should have hugged a cactus instead.

Anyway I thought it’s pretty much a non-issue when it comes to handshakes. Direct eye contact with a smile (even the slightest) on your face, firm grasp but not crushing, “hi, I’m Suanie, pleased to meet you” (formal) or “ohai!” (informal), two shakes or two and a half then let go. Like many people, I abhor the limp handshake. Makes me feel like I just touched a cold, dead fish. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like touching cold, dead fishy. I also don’t like it if someone I barely know for 5 seconds hold on to my hand for a long time, so please let go after 3 shakes. Or if you JUST returned from a trip to the toilet, it’s okay I don’t have to shake your hand! Wave at me, scream, shout, whatever — I don’t want to touch you.

But something happened some time back that made me think about handshaking. I was at an informal social event, and one dude joined our party. He went around shaking hands with everyone at the table, me included. When he reached out his hand to shake another girl’s hand, she extended her hand and allowed him to hold it up till the knuckles. Confused by my terrible explanation? Perhaps the two screenshots below, taken from the movie Sydney White (yes, I like Amanda Bynes, fuck off) will serve as a better guide:

Sdyney White - male handshake
Matt Long and Amanda Bynes shaking hands. This is the only way I know how to do it

Sydney White - female handshake
Matt Long and Crystal Hunt shaking hands. This was how the girl did it

The guy looked pleasantly astonished and exclaimed, “Why, this is how a lady shakes hands!”

I never knew! Did you? Thoughts??



  1. that is the girl’s oh-i-am-only-giving-you-50%-hand-in-case-i-suspect-you-wont-let-go handshake.

    its really annoying…

  2. Maybe the girl expects the guy to kiss the back of her hand… ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. I agree with you on all counts, not a big fan of limp handshakes, or holding on to the hand for excessive amounts of times (exceptions apply ;)).

    The knuckles thing? Hmm…perhaps the girl used to be royalty in her previous life and reincarnation never really got rid of that habit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    That’s the nicer way of saying “What? She thinks she’s a princess izzit?”. Heh!

    Personally, I would be a little bit surprised if someone still does that knuckles thing. Too pretentious.

  4. Limp handshakes convey a sense of sloppiness and the lack of a spine.

  5. one party is seriously lacking in confidence… i think.

  6. I’ve since learnt that the ‘limp handshake’ thingy is the Malay way of ‘bagi salam’. Apparently Tun Razak used to shake hands that way, even with foreign dignataries.

    I’ve learnt to be more tolerant since learning that. Although if a Chinese shakes hands that way, I still get annoyed.

  7. i still find it hard to not judge people who don’t give a good handshake. yes, the Malays “bagi salam”, but shake enough hands and you’ll realise when it’s a handshake and when it’s a “salam”. a good, firm handshake is still what i look for whenever i extend a hand.

  8. I’ve seen a lot of girls doing that ‘knucke’ handshakes…..irritates the hell out of me……especially when they shake my hands using that ‘knucle style’. Some girls do it because to them its more lady-like and they want to act coy around the boys ……. please lah!!

  9. I know someone who used to put a plaster on her palm so that she feign an injury and avoid shaking hands. Thought it was pretty clever!

  10. there is a difference between a male and female handshake? since when?!

  11. Hm, I completely agree with you when it comes to handshakes; learnt it from the GM the first day I started work. Anyway, I think the kunckle thingy is ok, seems more lady-like, maybe for the shyer ones?

  12. Kenneth says:

    I shake it up and down

  13. ShadowFox says:

    Shake my 3rd leg thank you.

  14. The second method is the “enchante” style; where the lady holds out her hand knuckles up and the gentleman needs to take the offered hand and lift it slightly, accompanied by a bow.

    The method is used for the gentleman to pay homage to the lady. Ring-kissing is considered traditional in such a situation but there are very specific rules for this. When in doubt, a bow will suffice.

    It is always a lady who offers her hand in such a way. Men don’t offer their hand “enchante” style. Especially when greeting other men. LOL

  15. this is a very “poyo” kind of hand shake, and i bet you agree hun.

  16. ront: well, some people can be like that .. i.e. don’t let go. if i were a guy and the girl was hot and i was intoxicated, i wouldn’t let go also mah

    matthew: i think it’s almost-there kind of thing

    huai bin: i don’t think it’s prevalent in malaysia. but apparently quite the thing in other countries?

    dr tan: hah i can give you a few examples ๐Ÿ˜›

    zewt: the one limply holding on? bad combination

    vincent: well there are exceptions. like you, i’d get annoyed if a chinese did that

    lishun: agreed

    in: want to slap them right

    jamie: wah that works! should try it sometime!

    ohkulala: since i learned about it, heh

    leongsoon: i don’t think it’s not ok, was just learning something new that i never knew before

    kenneth: you mean, not left to right?! -_-”

    sf: bleh

    tigerjoe: no bow in both instances (the real life situation and in the movie). ring kissing wtf? the only time it’s okay to kiss someone’s ring is if the person is royalty or head of mafia

    delia: hahaha just something new to me

  17. I tried posting this twice today from work … oh well, third time lucky.

    In body language terms, anyone who places their hand over yours whilst shaking your hand thinks of themselves as superior. Thus, the knuckle raising thing probably means the lady thinks very highly of herself.

    Of course, if she really hates the guy she can also very easily turn it into a punch just by continuing the hand extension whilst turning the hand into a fist! ๐Ÿ™‚ WHAMMO!!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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