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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Women and handshakes

One thing that annoys me is the handshake. I'm not annoyed by it in theory - it's a good way to greet someone and to formally make contact. My annoyance is that so many women have really floppy handshakes. It's like they just hold out their hand and do nothing with it. It makes me anxious as I am freakishly strong and tend to do pretty firm handshakes - and always freak out that I have crushed the other person.

This happened at the interview for the job I didn't get a few weeks ago. The director was a tall woman - so I thought she would do a good handshake - I mean, she didn't appear fragile or overly feminine or diminutive - plus, as a director - I assumed she had some comfort with her power. So, I think I overestimated how strong her handshake was and I was way too firm wiht my own. In fact, she looked down at our hands as they shook. In my flashbacks of this (and yes, I am plagued by flashbacks of it) I imagine she is looking at my hand with horror, pain, and fear because I am shattering the bones in her hand. I am convinced that this cost me the job (not totally).

Does anyone worry obsessively about this? Why aren't women better at doing at least somewhat firm handshakes? Does anyone else get annoyed at the really weak ones? Or freak out when there is a clear mismatch in terms of firmness? I freak out about this way too much.



At 10:13 PM, Blogger dr four eyes said...

I hate this, too. To be fair, I also hate when men have floppy handshakes--dead fish handshakes, I call them. I had a former boss who had a gross handshake; I didn't like her all that much.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Propter Doc said...

For many European countries the hand shake is totally foreign - they'd rather do an embrace or kiss cheeks so women from those countries I find to be quite peculiar because they are totally ackward about handshakes (and surprised when you offer). That aside, I find men are as bad as women for dead fish shakes. Still, I'll take a dead fish over a 'clamy palmy' any day. Wipe your hands first people!
I have strange bony hands and wear many rings so the firm handshakes hurt and usually turn into 'grin and bare it' rather than 'grip and grin'. B

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Clio Bluestocking said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who notices this! You walk up expecting a nice firm handshake, and it's like they capitulate all of their accomplishments with the dead-fish handshake -- almost as if they are apologizing or trying to take the edge off of having a position of power.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger ~profgrrrrl~ said...

I hate dead fish handshakes, but try to start out with a medium one of my own so I don't crush a dead fish. Typically my own handshake is what I would consider solid and well-supported, but perhaps not quite strong (I don't think a dead fish would think I had crushed their hands). I've become particularly sensitive to the issue since I have a colleague with severe arthritis and I've seen others unintentionally do her harm via handshakes.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger shrinkykitten said...

for the record - I never initiate handshakes because I find them awkward - and my hands are pretty much always clammy!:)

I wonder too if, for women at least, there might be a body image component -- some discomfort with being strong - stronger. Women are, after all, supposed to be fragile and ladylike - not big hulking he-women. And that's what my crushing handshake always makes me aware of - being big, tall, large, strong - and then I feel shame.

and Dr. Four Eyes: I agree it's not just women - but it has been a long time since i shook hands with a man, so I couldn't really remember what that was like :)

At 11:21 PM, Blogger Propter Doc said...

I dislike women who offer their hand (raise hand, fingers pointing down as if inviting the man to kiss the back of it).

At 5:41 AM, Blogger StyleyGeek said...

I just find handshakes awkward in general. I always worry that I'm squeezing too hard, or not enough, and fret about how much to actually move the arm up and down, and all sorts of things. I'm probably one of the dead fish you all hate because I freak out and freeze after holding out my hand.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Seeking Solace said...

It really annoys me when a guy gives a dead fish handshake. And the finger shake bugs me too. But I think what bugs me most of all is the fact that these same handshkes come with little to no eye contact. That speaks volumes to me!

At 12:05 PM, Blogger k8 said...

I hate the fish shake - from men and women. I do (mentally) try to keep in mind if a person is older or might have arthritis. But, overall, it boths me. My dad made a point of teaching us all to do proper handshakes. I imagine as a funeral director he has a lot of experience shaking people's hands as he greeted them.


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