Etiquette : Shaking hands


Welcome to our regular social etiquette section, this time we will talk about the rules when shaking hands. Once upon a time a handshake signified that a person was not carrying a gun, today is a purely symbolic gesture. But who has priority when shaking hands and how are these rules applied in private and professional life? These rules are explained in the following lines.

It a good practice and courtesy, when shaking hands to give precedence to the elderly, women and hosts. Ladies always firstly decide whether to approach and converge and then consent to physical contact. Gentlemen must be patient and wait for the lady to react.  If we are in the position of host, we offer a handshake first to express pleasure at being the host and welcoming guests. In no case is it acceptable to give your hand across a table and other obstacles, and always stand up for this symbolic ritual, except of course for women who can remain seated. Where possible the eyes should meet and greet at the same height.

In a professional environment, however, these rules are quite different. The fundamental rule for handshaking etiquette in professional life involves hierarchy. Those at a higher level or in a higher position are welcomed and offered a handshake first, this prevents unpleasant embarrassment, such as, for example, when we offer the assistant director a handshake first. This rule should be strictly followed and as the first to reach out to those who are higher on the hierarchical ladder. A person wearing a jacket should hold the jacket with the left hand and shake hands with the right hand. In general, handshaking adheres to the following standards. Offer the right hand, if wearing gloves, they must be removed. When shaking hands make eye contact with the person, the handshake alone should take 3-4 seconds. The palms should make firm contact, so as to fully bond . Do not squeeze the hand too lightly or too hard.

Each country has its own standards of conduct and thus it should not surprise us that in Germany and France people shaking hands at every opportunity. In contrast, the British don’t hold this symbolism and even when introducing try to avoid this ritual. In Arab countries woman are not met with a handshake, the handshake is considered to be an exclusively masculine way of greeting. In Russia handshaking between men and women is rare, it is preferable to greet ladies with a kiss on the hand, for a man to shake a woman’s hand is considered rude . And in Japan a slight bow of the head is sufficient as a greeting. 


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