How do you shake hands?

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Funny, how a word prompt will remind you of something. A long time ago, when I was fourteen, the pastor leading our confirmation class, talked about shaking hands. He said, “Shake hands as if you mean it. Who wants to shake a limp fish?” We called him P.F. and, for many reasons, he was one of the best individual’s I’d ever met.

For some reason, his unexpected comments about shaking hands stuck with me. Shake firm. Show your strength. Show  your character.

So, I began shaking with confidence even if I didn’t feel any. That’s when I noticed the different kinds of handshakes on my receiving end. The limp fish. The Lukewarm I-don’t-really-want-to-meet you kind; the one’s with, egads, two fingers.

Decades later, I realize I have formed my own version of a handshake. The main difference is that I don’t do the pump up and down. I grab hold, look in the person’s eyes as if they are worthy, and don’t let go until I feel as if I’ve truly “met” them. Sometimes, I will put my other hand on top for good “measure.”

How do you shake hands? (Or do you just fist-bump? 🙂 )

Oh, and if you are shaking a paw, always do it gently!

Published by

Carolyn Dennis-Willingham

Carolyn is the author of two published books – No Hill for a Stepper, 2001, and The Last Bordello, 2016. Her third novel, The Moonshine Thicket, is set in 1928 and is currently enduring a professional edit. When not on her laptop, she serves as a lap top for her grandchildren. She is a retired Early Childhood Specialist, a fitness boxer, artist, and a ball thrower for her ever-persistent mini Aussie. In addition to her blogging website,, you may find her on Facebook and Twitter.

12 thoughts on “How do you shake hands?

  1. Always firm; I mean it after all. 🙂 And I do look at the person whose hand I’m shaking. Strangely though, there are some culture that doesn’t do the look in the eye thing. And I found the South African Indians, unless senior management and higher have the limp fish. And some Africans give half the hand. Filipinos are no better with hand shakes. We do hugs now so hand shakes are left for business. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The STRONGEST handshake I ever received among normal people (take however you wish), was a retired pastor friend of mine doing work as a Methodist fundraiser. He clamped on my hand so hard I got a deep imprint of the sides of my college class ring on the fingers on either side!===AND IT HURT!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember many years ago, my mother-in-law absolutely hated shaking hands, because she had severe arthritis and some of the more exuberant hand-shakers caused her great pain. So, while I use a firm handshake, I always remember Clara and try for firm, yet gentle.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm, intriguing post. I usually try to shake hands as firmly as I can, but I always feel like the grip of the other person is stronger because I have weak arms. Oh well, I guess I tried! XD

    Liked by 1 person

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