Emotional Intelligence Social

The significance of the handshake in greeting.

We bring to the front one of the first articles of the web given the certain controversy raised on the handshakes of the current President of the United States, Donald Trump. What kind of handshake do you think is the one that best fits the technique used by Trump? Is your greeting correct? How do you avoid a dominant handshake?

One of the most common gestures of nonverbal communication is greeted with a handshake, although it is not a universal gesture is the most common form of greeting in the West. It is part of the regulatory signs especially important interactions for mediarlas, start them or end them.

The message we can convey with this simple motor action can be very subtle or complex but knowledge could handle such situations can be very helpful in certain interpersonal situations, such as in a job interview. You can reinforce an impression already favorable or unfavorable impression correct first if we know the meaning and our processes incorporate emotional intelligence.

Posture, position, body movement (Kinesis), the look and proxemics or para-language part of the wide range of gestures and signs that make holistically our nonverbal communication. However, the greeting with handshake provides other information due to physical contact established, although brief contains is very revealing.

Information transmitted during grip

  • Texture: the hand can be soft, delicate, hard, rough …
  • Humidity: the degree of dryness.
  • Pressure: loud or soft.
  • Duration: normally usually last 5 seconds, not more. Enlarge or reduce this time changes the meaning of the grip.
  • Length and shape of the hand and fingers.
  • Cleaning, especially nails.

Given the importance of this first contact it is advisable to take certain precautions to avoid first negative impressions due to these facts. Clearly it can be for isolated facts and then corrected that impression during the interaction, but in the case of job interviews time is limited.

Basic recommendations:

  • Dumpy, dirty or biting nails.
  • Dry the hand before offering, hopefully disguised form. Excess moisture could indicate some anxiety.
  • Make eye contact. If you give you first hand, it will be the other person have to “point” to your hand and that will give advantage to initiate eye contact.
  • Horizontal chin and relaxed smile.

Grip length:
Short: implies lack of enthusiasm, interest or sympathy.
Length: interest, attention and willingness to cooperate.
Grip pressure:
Soft: indicates insecurity.
Strong: I desire to dominate.
To avoid making mistakes when shaking hands, it is best to always extend your hand first to make the other person which posturally have to adapt to you and not the other way around. Which initiate the greeting, which is generally also marks its duration. Sometimes, especially when we are facing a superior, we tend to wait until it is this that take the initiative and, except very protocolic cases, is rarely the case. Trust and take the initiative, be less likely to do harm than waiting for the other person.



Dominant style.

If we want to convey the domain palm stands pointing down. It becomes a power struggle between two people usually strong and powerful. To avoid falling into a submissive position during the grip and avoid domination, we can start the greeting with the following movements:

Overtaking the left foot before receiving the greeting.
Then move the right leg forward.
While the leg comes forward we move to the left of the other person to invade your living space and set certain domain.
Finally, we put the left leg with the right to complete the maneuver.

Cooperative style.

In these cases pressure is similar in both persons. There is an equality with which we must be careful when increasing the contact time and pressure not to give wrong signals.

If that greets us allows us to extend the grip indicates it is willing to give up their decisions on our behalf. Otherwise, if you remove your hand before time indicates a response of resistance or struggle.

Submissive style.

It is used when you want to convey in subjection to a person, in this case the palm is facing up.

It is convenient to use when faced with a superior but do it is not showing weakness or complete submission. To avoid this, the hand will tighten slightly higher at the beginning and go way loosening and relaxing as the other person increases the pressure (given its dominant style). thus putting balance cooperation.

Other styles:

Glove style: both hands are used to cover or wrap the opposite hand. It is a greeting that use a lot of politicians who want to impress even the opposite effect (doubts and suspicions). It is not recommended to use it during the first meeting.

Double Grip: The free hand leads to the forearm of the other person to increase the feeling of warmth and empathy. It has to be careful because the closer we get to the elbow greater degree of intimacy transmit.

Grip Wrist: Only used for people with intimate personal relationship and open.

Shoulder Squeeze: The free hand up and positioned in the other’s arm increasing the degree of intimacy. Only for people nearby.


Iván Pico


Graduado en Psicología (UNED). Nº Colegiado G-5480
Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales (USC).
Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y las Organizaciones. (INESEM)
Técnico Deportivo Nivel II, fútbol sala (RFEF).

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