December 19, 2004

Intermural Handshakes

How can a man properly and politely shake a woman's hand?
Long ago I decided to adopt the Kennedy-half-shake where ya grab her fingers and coddle them in your palm with an earnest closeness bestowed upon only those whose hands you wanna shake.

It's worked out great so far.

But, I wonder:

What do you gals think about shaking hands with a man?

Do you want him to squeeze with firm resolve -- like a man shaking hands with a man?

Or, would you rather he take you gently into his own hand -- like a man shaking hands with a woman?

Am I the only man left that finds shaking hands with a woman to be kinda wwiieerrdd?


Posted by Tuning Spork at December 19, 2004 09:12 PM

In business situations, it is inappropriate to shake as you describe. A normal shake (minus the bone-crushing grip) is appropriate. In the corporate world today, your half-shake would be considered sexist by some...or at least condescending by most.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 19, 2004 11:45 PM

It can be a bit of a problem. Some women don't do the hand-shake-thing. Some women have teeny-tiny hands.

I suggest squirting them with a super-soaker to break the ice. After that, there's much less to be embarassed about.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 20, 2004 06:05 AM

Just don't miss their hand and accidentally shake their breast! Can be embarrassing. If you are really worried wear a hook and pretend you lost your hand.
If you do shake hands your way and there's any complaints of sexism, just pretend you're gay. The gay card trumps the 'I am a woman and that guy treated me in a sexist way' card every time.

Posted by: Monjo at December 20, 2004 06:56 AM

Pull their hair. That's the universally understood signal that you secretly like them.

Posted by: Ted at December 20, 2004 10:33 AM

I'm with Ted. Plus, you should tease them a lot. Call them "grody" and "ugly" and say that they have "cooties." Because they do.

Posted by: Daniel at December 20, 2004 12:45 PM

"ahem" in the off chance that this is all serious; wait for the woman to extend her hand and then take it firmly, but gently, give a shake and release. Strict ettiquite calls for the woman to extend her hand first; otherwise don't shake. There are some women who will not shake hands with men (and vice versa) because of religious considerations. Me; I will if I think I might insult the person and it is a situation where I'm unlikely to meet the person again; otherwise, I add that info with a smile.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at December 20, 2004 03:45 PM

I'm with Jennifer and Rachel Ann on this one.

First, I don't touch people at all unless invited, largely because I don't want to touch them and they probably do have cooties.

But being brought up a proper gentleman with Southern leanings, I tend to shake the hands of ladies as if they are ladies -- that is to say by taking their fingers and overlaying them with my thumb. I tend to also give a deferetial nod as well.

However, I had a woman at work scold me for doing it and advised her that in any situations in which offense is offered she should take none.

I resolved then to shake hands with all people as if they are men in business and behave as a person with eyes and an appreciation for womanhood in contexts where giving offense will not cost me jobs and/or lots of money.

And in the worst situations, I play the gay card and turn up my southern accent. Suddenly, it's nothing but charm.

Posted by: Trey Givens at December 20, 2004 07:20 PM

Thanks for the feedback, guys n' gals... 'specially about the super-soaker!

I guess Trey and I see it pretty much the same way even though I'm from New England, not the South. Must be the neoPuritan atmosphere 'round here when I was growing up.

Of course, Rachel Ann is right about always waiting for the woman to extend her hand. I've never offered my hand to a woman, mainly because I jus' feel weird about shaking hands with a woman.

When I was growing up men and women did not shake hands. If they were familiar they got a peck on the cheek. If they were aquaintences or strangers, they got a nod and smile and a friendly "how do ya do".

At family gatherings the men (cousins, uncles, etc) shake hands, and the women (aunts, mom, grandma, sisters, etc) get a hug and a kiss.

I rarely meet women in a business setting, so what I'm really refering to are situations where my family or friends introduce me to a female friend of theirs.

I'd never considered that it would be offensive to take her hand the way I do -- which is NOT the same as Trey described. But I can definately see that, in a business setting, it could be construed as an insult simply because she's being treated differently than a man.
No matter how trivial I might think the difference is, it'd be a shame if she thought she was being shaked down do, mheh.

Anywho, I've had no complaints, so far, so I guess I'll just keep doing it my way until I get a stern talkin' to.

Or maybe I'll just carry around two heavy sacks with me all the time. That way if a lady extends her hand I can just say "Sorry, got these sacks."

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 20, 2004 08:39 PM

It's the 21st century. Women are my equals. They should shake hands firmly like men when doing so in a business setting.

Posted by: Harvey at December 20, 2004 11:21 PM

In my industry the number of women that are vendors, reps, or managers is almost equal to men- so not a day goes by when I don't "meet" one. Several years ago it was semi-rare and therefore kind of awkward as far as the handshake... but no more. Yeah, I still believe it's proper to wait until the woman extends her hand, but after that, I think Harvey says it best.

It's not a man/woman thing, it's a greeting between equals. Any kind of "special" handshake will tend to come across wrong.

Of course, sometimes the handshake is going to go poorly- but that happens with guys, as well.

Posted by: Jack Grey at December 21, 2004 06:12 AM

I'm so old I remember when it was standard practice to ask a father for his daughter's hand...

Posted by: triticale at December 23, 2004 10:07 AM

It's not that women are unequal; it's that they are different.

If the two are interchangeable, then we might all just as well shake hands like women. We could all wear skirts and heels, too! The assumption that shaking hands "the man's way" is the right way is more overtly sexist than the alternative.

That's not the function of manners, though. Manners (culture) are here to eliminate the "social static" that would otherwise interfere with interpersonal communication.

The reason that shaking women's hands the same way one would shake a man's hand is now en vogue is because the practice is 'abnormal.' I can accept that. But the claim that it indicates that women are unequal ascribes far too much philosophical significance to a behavior in a set of behaviors that is there for the specific reason of NOT being philosophically significant.

One would do well to observe the practices that are most widely accepted, which here is to shake hands the same way without regard to sex, depending on what one's goals are in the given context.

Posted by: Trey Givens at December 23, 2004 11:31 AM

If you believe the CDC, during flu season nobody should be shaking hands.

Sneeze on them instead.

Posted by: Art Stone at December 24, 2004 09:33 AM
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