How’s your handshake?

The limp fish handshake

Handshakes are an arena for the exercise, display and resolution of rank, power and influence,” says leading behavioural psychologist Dr Peter Collett. To celebrate World Handshake Day, he analyses what five handshake styles, from the Limp Fish to the Clinton Clasp, say about your leadership…

The nonchalent handshakeThe nonchalent handshake

Collett says: “It’s disrespectful. It’s a desire to appear casual. But sometimes photos don’t fully account for what happened. Maybe Bill Gates didn’t have time to pull his hand out of his pocket but he still should have anticipated it.”

The palm-crushing handshakeThe palm-crushing handshake

Collett says: “This is competitive. It says, ‘Look you’re dealing with somebody who’s got a grip on things.’ Plus research shows people with a firm grip, especially women, tend to be more extroverted and open to experience.”

Bil Clinton handshakeThe Clinton clasp

Collett says: “These are designed to give the impression of enthusiasm, but their real underlying purpose is to take control. Politicians prefer to be on the left of photos because more of their arm is exposed. This makes them look more powerful.”

The limp fish handshakeThe limp fish handshake

Collett says: “A CEO of a corporation might use a light handshake to make the point that they don’t need to impose themself. The limp handshake is culturally conditioned too. West African handshakes are soft, as they aren’t a medium for presenting oneself.”

The pseudo masonic handshakeThe pseudo-masonic handshake

Collett says: “This involves pressing the index finger on the other person’s wrist. Hopefully this is not something that Director readers will recognise. This is one for some very strange bars only.”

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About author

Christian Koch

Christian Koch

Alongside his work for Director, Christian has written features for the Evening Standard, The Guardian, Sunday Times Style, The Independent, Q, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, ShortList and Glamour in an eclectic career which has seen him interview everybody from Mariah Carey to Michael Douglas through to Richard Branson with newspaper assignments including reporting on the Japanese tsunami and living with an Italian cult.

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