THE HANDSHAKE IN 5 (Mrs. Lemontree's Guide on How to Behave Here, There and Everywhere)

The handshake has fallen out of favor. Germophobes say that it cross-contaminates. People who eschew the dreaded 'formality' have replaced it with the hug, the double-cheek kiss, the air kiss, what have you. Perfectly acceptable for those we know and love but how about the people we don't know that well or at all. The new doctor, the politician canvassing your neighbourhood, or come September, your childs new teacher or caregiver?
For those of us, and you can count old Lily in there, who don't want to slap a wet one on everyone they meet, the handshake is the proper way to greet people, male and female, you know slightly and introduce yourself to ones you don't.

Have we forgotten how to give a handshake? Very simple my friends and we can brush up in 5 easy steps, which just so happens to be the perfect segue to our new series, Charm School in 5 (a simple guide to brushing up on the skills that help us be our best in five easy steps).

1. Make sure you are standing close enough to the person so that you can extend your arm and hand comfortably without the fear of over-extending, falling over or on top of them.

2. If seated, always stand up when extending to shake hands.

3. Prepare your hand for contact. If you have been doing anything that has left residue on your hand (eating, working, crafting, etc.), quickly wipe them before you extend your arm and hand (no need to make a big production out of it, the more discreet the better).  If sweaty palms are your issue, try to keep a little handkerchief or tissue in your pocket for a quick wipe.

4. Shake hands with at least one up and down motion but not more than three times, using a firm, friendly grip and then let go. Unless you are greeting your mortal enemy, there is no need to see their eyes bulge out of the sockets before you realize that you are using too much force. On the other end of the spectrum, never offer someone a limp, wilted handshake. It says more about you than you might think and could give off a sense of indifference to the person you are greeting.

5. Make eye contact, show off your pearly whites with a smile and of course, be genuine throughout the course of this interaction.

For a little more on the art of the handshake, please make your way over to one of my daily reads, Being Manly where the ever-so-eloquent Vir Beatum does a little more justice to the topic at hand (and yes, pun intended!).


  1. Fantastic post ... it is always wonderful to be reminded of the small things that one can so easily over look. - especially the looking in the eye, limp handshake and standing up if sitting. Happy Wednesday my friend..HHL

  2. Bravo! Nothing worse than a handshake like a sock in a cup. I shake hands daily, and have no better measure of a man before I know him. Shaking hands with ladies comes with different considerations. I usually allow the lady to establish the correct amount of pressure, and reciprocate, the judgment of which all happens in the blink of an eye. I could not live with myself were I to crush some delicate fingers.

    Looking forward to this series. Right up my street.

  3. Love it!! Even my 4yr old daughter knows to shake a hand when meeting someone new.

  4. As ever you capture modern manners so very well. Thank you for sharing, although I might add, I am a 2 kiss kinda girl in social settings, a hand shaker for biz.....(shameful EU habit I cannot break).

    on another note, love those kitchens, but I could not get past them as I was deeply heartbroken to hear about Lisa, I adored her, as did everyone else. You paid a lovely tribute to her, thank you.

  5. There is nothing worse than that limpy fishy fake.

    There was talk of elbows touching instead of germy hands...but hello, I cannot get my head around that one....I am so old fashioned.

    Good to see that we are on the same wavelength.

  6. I shake hands with people nearly every day. Being a journalist means I do a lot of interviewing and there is no better way to say hello to somebody I've never met before or only met in 'work' situations. It is cordial, neat and can help keep unwanted niceties at a safe distance especially when I'm interviewing men. Re germy hands - we touch each others' hands unwittingly anyway, when we hold door handles, stair railings, the backs or chairs, a menu in a coffee shop..... things other people have just grasped before us. If we're equipped with an immune system, it's no harm letting it do its job is there? And washing hands every so often never did anybody any harm. Apart from that, I believe we really cannot control everything. If it feels safer, we can always pop latex gloves on before we do the handshake, but that guarantees being considered rather odd doesn't it?

  7. Oh I would love for the handshake to make a return, I hate sloppy continental kisses.

  8. Not only do I love the name of your blog, but I'm loving the contents! It's just fabulous! nothing like a quick run down of how to navigate that sometimes awkward situation!
    xo tash

  9. Great post. I always feel better in a social situation & I am feeling a bit anxious, when I step forward with a friendly smile and an outstretched hand. At the school my children attend they must shake hands with the teacher, making eye contact which is just as important, before they are dismissed. My daughter once came home when she was about 12 & told me that Mr. so & so did not make eye contact with her when she was introduced while shaking her hand. She was horrified!

  10. I absolutely hate, despise, abhor when a man gives me a wimpy handshake. We taught our boys when they were tiny the art of the appropriate handshake. They get many compliments, I must say!