Mastering the Art of the Handshake-Fist-Bump-Bro-Hug

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This week I was at a fancy shmancy event in Albany and I ended up shaking a few hands. Know what I realized? A LOT of people don’t have a CLUE about how NOT to shake someone’s hand! I know…seems trivial BUT the right handshake is important if you want to give the right impression.

So tonight I present: “How to Shake Hands Properly Without Skeeving Everyone Out”

  • Keep your handshake firm… but not crushing. A firm handshake says you’re confident while a weak one says you’re a wimp and a crushing one says you’re overcompensating for something. Good rule of thumb is to try and mirror the same pressure the other person is using.
  • Make sure your hand is clean. Sweaty hands or dirty ones are all someone will remember about you. If you have to, wipe your hand on your pants when nobody is looking
  • Maintain eye contact and smile. If you look angry or seem to be scanning the room, people will think you’re a psycho.
  • Stand tall. This is the easiest thing that most people overlook. Always stand up to give a handshake… you’re not the Queen of England. Also keep a good posture to look confident

Ok so now that you’ve mastered “Handshaking 101”, let’s get to WHEN to handshake…and when to do something else like the “fist bump” or the infamous “bro hug”:

  • Handshake: When in doubt, always go for the handshake. It’s generic … it’s easy…  it’s a little uptight and formal… but at least you won’t confuse or offend anyone (or make a fool out of yourself). But always ALWAYS use the handshake for anything business-related or formal.

  • Fist Bump: This is pretty typical if you’re on a team or we’re talking about 2 guys who are pretty good friends…. or if you’re sick and don’t want to infect everyone with your disgusting diseases.
    • How to master:
      • Approach the other person with a closed fist no less than 5 or 6 feet away (otherwise they’ll think you’re about to punch them).
      • Smile (otherwise they’ll think you’re about to punch them).
      • Bump fists
    • Warning:
      • Don’t make any “boom” noises or pretend you have exploding fists. You’re not in middle school.

  • The High Five: A pretty similar alternative to the fist bump but unless you’re in a 1980s movie then it’s a little too old school and you’ll probably look like you’re trying to hard. The one and ONLY time you can get away with this is if you’re congratulating someone and literally say something like “nice job”
    • How to Master
      • Approach someone with your hand up in the “stop” position
      • Wait for them to put their hand up
      • Slap hands
    • Warning:
      • Watch your aim or you could be slapping them in the face.

  • Bro Hug: Usually done between 2 guys who know each other pretty well but don’t want to go full-on “hug” (because after all, they’re guys… we don’t hug). Usually it’s if the 2 bros haven’t seen each other in a long time or if they’re at a bar, gym, etc. It’s less formal than a handshake and more manly than a fist bump (definitely a no-no for any type of professional setting). It says “I like you but not in that way.” But you have to be sure the other guy is into the bro hug too or he might think you’re attacking him.
    • How to Master (execution is a little tricky for this one):
      • Start off with hands extended but instead of shaking hands you smack them hard together
      • Clasp tightly
      • Drag the other bro towards you
      • Follow up with a full-arm wrap-around
      • End with 3 or 4 strong pats on the back
      • Optional: a grunt or a roar
    • Warning
      • MUST keep the lower half of your body away from your Bro’s lower half otherwise it gets a little awkward (remember: men don’t hug and don’t want anything remotely resembling a hug)

Ok so that’s the down and dirty when it comes to greetings (I’m not even going to go into the alternate-cheek-kiss thing because this isn’t France). Please PLEASE memorize this list… because honestly you’re creeping everyone out.

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