How to Give Great Hugs & Handshakes

There are some things I come to appreciate more as I am advanced in years. One, is a good handshake. Two, is a great hug.

We know from research (and our own experience) that non-verbal signals speak louder than words.

A good handshake is much to be admired. I love it when someone gives me a nice firm handshake and looks me in the eye. This tells me a couple things…

One, that this person cares about such things and is probably a like-minded person.

Two, that this person is someone who we would refer to as “good people”.

Three, that their intent is on me and they are truly pleased to meet me.

That says a lot about a person before they even have a further chance to speak. When I know someone is interested in me I care about them a little more than any other random stranger I meet on the street. And,ย  I want to get to know them more.

To give a great handshake is simple. Just do these things…

  1. Firmly grip the persons hand. Nothing is worse than holding a limp fish.
  2. Hold the person’s hand for 3-5 seconds. Most people hold the other person’s hand for only a second or two. This may seem arbitrary, but time really does matter.
  3. Look them in the eye. This shows them you care about them and really want to engage with them.
  4. Think about using two hands. Very few people use two hands to give a handshake. Using two hands emphasizes your engagement even more. Placing your other hand on their shoulder is also something to consider.
  5. Be Genuine. Your body speaks louder than your words, but your words still matter. If you engage someone like this say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Giving great hugs is very similar to giving a great handshake. Hug a little tighter and a little longer. Look them in the eye before and after you are done. Use both hands. And be genuine.

Finally, always smile. A smile is just the icing on the cake that is needed. ๐Ÿ™‚

20 thoughts on “How to Give Great Hugs & Handshakes”

  1. I love this post ๐Ÿ™‚

    My pop gives great hugs. they are firm and last a little bit longer than a normal hug. Best of all, I can always tell how much it means to him to give his grandkids a big hug. I can just feel the love. Does that sound soppy? Ah well!
    Also I hate when people give limp half hugs just for show. Dont touch me unless you mean it!

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  2. Spontaneuous hugs from my little girl are golden.

    I love a good, firm handshake. There are times when a connection is made during that first moment when the eyes connect with the smile and hand.

    Conversely, a limp, noodle like weak handshake makes me cringe on the inside and in my opinion speaks to character.

    Interesting post, Jeremy.


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  3. What a fantabulous post, Jeremy!! Loved it. You know, a lot of times I’ll ignore a hand that’s sticking out at me and give the person a great big ole hug (depending on the person and the situation!) so I strongly agree with these awesome tips you’ve shared–and you’re right, the smile is the icing on the cake!! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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  4. You’re so right, limp handshakes/hugs are terrible. When I was a kid a teacher in our school really drilled in the importance of strong handshakes to us and I’ve always appreciated it. I don’t know why but I think I probably respect people a little bit more if they give me a decent handshake. As for hugs, do it like you mean it or not at all!

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  5. I don’t like limp handshakes either. Especially if someone just gives me their fingers to shake. I’m not sure if they expect a handshake or want me to kiss their hand. It’s offputting.

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  6. Handshakes and Hugs are like going to an interview for a job, It’s the first impression that always leaves a lasting one ! Outside of family and good friends, It depends on how well you present yourself to another person that could speak for itself and how others see you as you really are.

  7. Hi Jeremy

    Oh, how I detest the wet fish handshake! The message I receive (not necessarily intended) is that if they can’t even be bothered to give a decent greeting then there’s not much hope going forward!

    @Anto I’m sure there are cultural differences but putting all us Europeans together is similar to saying all Americans are the same, from Canada to Argentina. Have you ever shaken the hand of a Polish farmer, for example? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  8. Great to see. One of those not so common posts, yet oh so important things in life. One point I’d add is that for a good handshake to be even one step better, say the person’s name while you look at them. It makes it even more genuine.

    Mike King’s last blog post..Book Review: The No Asshole Rule

  9. Thanks for reminding us of how important this gesture of greeting, respect and/or parting is. In most situations I’m okay with shaking hands and I have no problem at all with making eye contact. However, handshaking is NOT my preferred gesture of greeting or departure — bowing is.

    When it comes to demands for group hugs which are so prevalent in the personal development and self improvement community these days, they are my pet peeve. I hug only those who I’m very close to, and I refuse to act like a Pavlovian dog every time the group hug demand is made.

    I wondered how many others shared the same resentment but feel pressured to participate in group hugs anyway, so I asked this question at a workshop last year and 30% of the people in the group felt the same way I did. We also identified this. It’s always an extrovert, who makes the group hug demand, and it’s introverts like myself who recoil from it because it feels like emotional blackmail to us.

    As I set at the outset I prefer making eye contact and bowing to hand shaking and this year I set myself free. I make eye contact and bow before the other person offers me their hand.

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