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Text comes from the book: “The power of hidden signals: choice of words - body language - emotions. Recognizing and overcoming non-verbal resistance ”(2014), published by Linde Verlag, reprinted with the kind permission of the publisher.

Here writes for you:

cerwinkaDr. Gabriele Cerwinka is a partner at Schranz and Cerwinka OEG and has many years of professional experience as a board secretary. After studying vocational education and communication sciences as well as international human resource management / organizational development, she has been a freelance consultant and coach for personality development, communication and office management since 1993. She is also a specialist book author and university lecturer.

schranzGabriele Schranz is a partner in Schranz and Cerwinka OEG; Vienna - Zurich. After studying business administration in Vienna, she worked in management at the Berlitz language school in Vienna. Since 1993 she has been an independent trainer and consultant for communication, professional appearance, process optimization and personal development. She mainly oversees projects in the service, doctor and assistant areas as well as communication in hospitals. She also works as a university lecturer and has already written numerous specialist books on the subject of office management and professional communication.

Body language: interpret handshake

The welcome with hand stroke is common in our latitudes. Their origin is clear: when we hand the other hand to the other, we also show him that we do not hold a weapon, that we come in peaceful intent.


Complex welcome greetings

However, since we no longer think in the simple patterns of our Stone Age ancestors - "weapon = enemy, no weapon = friend - our welcoming ritual has become much more complex. We have already covered the role of the eyes.

  • But how do our hands behave?
  • How do we hide the evil intentions?
  • What makes us think that we have the one or the other arrow in the quiver?

Bonecrusher Handshake

First there is the “bone breaker” handshake. The most beautiful smile, the friendliest words are drowned out by the sound of pain when someone almost crushes our hands.

The person proves not only strength, but also lack of sensitivity: Such a handshake is perceived as an attack, as an injury - and indeed it is when we still feel the pressure minutes later and are barely able to hold our glass.

This power often suffocates a conversation in the bud. One tries to get rid of the “muscle man” as quickly as possible.

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The cold fish

The opposite of the “bone breaker” is the “cold fish”: the hand of the other lingers in ours for seconds without any movement or signs of life. We conclude that the other is completely disinterested.

We are not worthy of a feeling, he does not want to feel us, do not get in touch with us. When this handshake occurs in conjunction with the previously described convulsive smile, the hurdle to an open conversation is almost insurmountable.

The hand in the bag

If a man holds his left hand in his handbag when he is shaking his hand, it is not for nothing as rude - the person so welcomed feels insecure. Is this only a gesture of rudeness, or is the other hiding a weapon in the courtbag?

Or does he just want to signal to me that he is simply looking for an informal, comradely conversation? Then the hand in your pocket means relaxed nonchalance: "I'm sure I'm not attacking you, my hand is not even ready to defend myself against you."

The slider

Another way to clearly mark out the fronts at the greeting and the actual one Sense To contradict the welcome ritual is the "pushing away". You walk towards the other with your arms outstretched - but instead of slightly bending your hand when you shake your hand, i.e. letting the other hand close, you keep your hand extended and push the other away from you.

In order to intensify this "pushing away", the left hand is often placed on the shoulder of the other. What should be friendly and jovial, however, is actually the assurance that the other person will not come too close with any part of the body. Both hands push him away.

friend or foe

This greeting must have arisen among politically hostile politicians who had to demonstrate friendship for the sake of the media. Who does not know the second typical “politician salute” from the Cold War, when you hugged each other and the viewer felt that the two only wanted to avoid looking into each other's eyes - that Opponents should not immediately see the evil intentions in the other's eyes.

In addition, this allegedly friendly body contact allows the inconspicuous palpation of the other for hidden weapons - the embrace as disarmament.

Dominance handshake

The situation is similar with the “dominance handshake”. In handshaking, the dominant interlocutor turns the other's hand so that his own hand is on top of the other's hand. He brings the hand of the “opponent” into humility.

If the other person is not beaten, he might lay his second hand on the other's hand. What seems particularly heartfelt, is nothing but a power game - will the other now on his part again put his second hand on top?

From the Stone Age to the Cold War

You think that these forms of salutation had only existed in the Cold War? Far from it - a cold war still prevails - especially in professional life. It is likely that all these contradictory greetings have come about because we have to welcome countless people every day, especially in the professional world, whether we find them sympathetic or not.

We have to show kindness, we want something from them or at least we want to make a good impression. After all, you never know whether a potential customer is standing in front of you ... The Stone Age man only greeted those with a handshake whom he really wanted to welcome!

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3 responses to "body language: interpreting handshakes"

  1. Simone Janson says:

    The power of hidden signals - Part 4: The handshake as ... -

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    The power of hidden signals - Part 4: The handshake as a yardstick -

  3. Competencepartner says:

    The power of hidden signals - Part 4: The handshake as a yardstick: The greeting with H… #Beruf #Education

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