Power Struggles With Hands

Power Struggle


Power struggles are waged every single day through the handshake

The double-handed handshake that we have just discussed is generally used to create an instant physical connection between two people. If you want a word to describe the goal, try “intimacy”. That’s right – intimacy can be forged through a handshake if the handshake is initiated properly.

Like other gestures in the large corpus of body language, the double handshake can be appropriated endlessly, depending on the goal.

While it is true that the double-handed handshake can be used to create a feeling of warmth and connection between two people, it can also be used to dominate and subordinate other people.

When one person tries to dominate the other through body language, a power struggle ensues. And one of the easiest ways to do that is through the different variations of the double-handed handshake:

  1. The wrist-hold handshake
  2. The elbow-grasp handshake
  3. The upper-arm grip handshake
  4. The shoulder-hold handshake

If you want to convey more control, the wrist-hold handshake can be used safely even when you are meeting someone for the first time. We should all remember that the double-handed handshake is actually a slight intrusion into another person’s personal space.

By extending the other hand to clasp another part of the person’s arm or hand, you are actually slightly pushing the boundaries by entering the other person’s private space. Since people only offer their hands when they shake hands with other people, going beyond the hand automatically means you are entering a private space already.

As such, the elbow-grasp handshake, shoulder-hold handshake and the upper-arm handshake should only be done if the other person really knows you and you are close to this person. Otherwise, you run the risk of annoying or potentially offending the other person when you do this.

Rule of Thumb: Don’t use a double-handed handshake if you have absolutely no connection to the person in front of you.

Three Handshakes You Should Avoid At All Costs

Some handshakes are worse than others. Welcome to the part of the book where we examine the handshakes that never contribute to a person’s credibility. First impressions last, and these handshakes create a lasting negative impression on people.

The Clammy Handshake (10% Credibility)


The limp, clammy handshake never impresses

As we have mentioned before, no one likes the idea of shaking hands with a person who seems to have just finished washing the dishes. Sweat is a big turn down in the world of social graces and the handshake is too essential to be ruined by sweat.

A sweaty palm does not only appear unhygienic but it also signals something much worse: that the person with the clammy handshake has weak character. If you want to exude confidence, your handshake has to communicate that as well.

Important Note: the Clammy Handshake is considered disagreeable in most Western countries like the USA, Canada, etc. However, in some countries in Asia, a firm grip during a handshake is generally avoided because it can actually offend people.

So the best strategy when you are in a foreign country is to simply match the grip strength of the other person. Also, carry a handkerchief that you can use to wipe away sweat from your palms when you know full well that you are going to shake hands with important people.

The Tight Handshake (40% Credibility)


A little too tight?

The tight handshake is usually done by two types of people: power players and people with low self-confidence. People with low self-confidence usually shake hands in this manner because they are often afraid that the other person might become too dominant.

The tight handshake is performed in this manner:

  1. The initiator offers a palm-down hand
  2. He takes the other hand and makes a downward pump once
  3. Three strong pumps are given before the initiator lets go of the other hand

The Wrench Handshake (0% Credibility)


Who would want to shake hands with a wrench?

Handshakes are meant to transmit confidence and credibility – not pain. People who routinely use the Wrench Handshake should not be surprised that their handshake can actually draw blood if the other person has a ring on.

The Wrench Handshake is the choice weapon of the blindly aggressive individual who wants nothing more than to appear ‘on top’ of things wherever he is.

Unfortunately, this kind of handshake only causes shock and people who have had the misfortune of having to endure this type of handshake will only have a negative impression of the initiator.

People who like the Wrench Handshake will usually grab the other person’s hand without warning and grip it so tightly during the hand pump movement that the other person will have no chance at all to control the handshake.

If you’re a woman and you are about to meet a lot of businessmen, I suggest that you take off any ring that you might have on before shaking hands. You never know when an errant bone-crusher might come along to ruin your day with a senseless and awful handshake.

Since it would be quite difficult to control a sudden Wrench Handshake from someone you barely (or don’t) know, the one thing that you can do to is to respond to the bone-crushing grip with a statement like “That actually hurt. You have an awfully strong grip.”

Such statements are not on the offensive but it is strong enough to catch the attention of the errant hand-shaker. Your statement will serve as a warning so he will not repeat the awful handshake.

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