The vice-like handshake with a professional colleague that leaves your hand temporarily paralyzed. The affectionate “man hug” with your best buddy that turns awkward. Or the farewell handshake that turns into an immature “fist pound.” All men have suffered from the ambiguity behind men acknowledging men. Let’s learn the five best techniques from the powerful world of sports so you don’t find yourself holding a dead fish next time you shake someone's hand.
The Traditional Handshake
Somewhat rare in the casual sports world, the traditional handshake is best used for acquaintances or rivals showing respect for one another. In a gentleman’s world, a firm, hearty handshake will be your introduction 80% of the time. Use this handshake for business colleagues or male relatives. To avoid being left hanging, always approach the person directly and audibly greet the person to get their attention. When offering your hand, look the person in the eye and smile (unlike Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick). Aim for a full grip, not a finger shake. Don’t offer a handshake if the other person is engrossed in another conversation. Hold for three seconds and release.
The Slap Shake
Part high five, part traditional handshake, the “slap shake” is used in a casual setting and signals a more genuine excitement to great one another. It takes a little more enthusiasm to make the slap shake work. Use the same approach tactics as the traditional handshake, but swing your right arm out wide to signal the incoming slap-shake. Unless you are in college, avoid clasping each others fingers upon release of the handshake. Use this handshake for friends that are of the same age.
The American Man Hug
Since many men, especially in America, are not completely comfortable with the full hug and want something more than the traditional handshake, they compromise with the “American Man Hug.” It begins with a traditional firm handshake, and then the left arm is wrapped around the shoulder of your friend. You can slap your friend’s back up to two times, but no more. The American Man Hug is never used on men over fifty.
The International Man Hug
Women hug other women dozens of times a day. For a man, they ration their hugs, doling them out only on special occasions such as when your friend shares an announcement like an engagement or a pregnancy. Other situations that call for the international man hug are if you haven’t seen a close friend for a long time, or you are celebrating you favorite team’s victory. The hug is performed by standing face-to-face, arms spread wide to make clear your intention of moving in for a hug. Don’t catch your friend off guard when going for the hug, and never press your heads or cheeks together. Simply wrap your right arm over the torso and the left arm under their left arm. After commencing the hug, don’t linger too long and steadily continue the conversation.
The Super Bowl Hug
It looks awkward, and it must feel awkward too. That’s why the “Super Bowl hug” is reserved for a once-in-a-lifetime moment among your dearest friend or father. It can be used at the birth of a child, or with condolences after the loss of a loved one. These hugs demand a level of intimacy you rarely see publicly with the modern man. Performed like the International Man Hug, the Super Bowl Hug takes the embrace to the next level by taking your left hand and putting it on the back of the other man’s head. You will draw each other’s faces closer until they touch. The embrace can be held longer than other hugs, as long as the moment requires. Upon commencing the hug, consider leaving your hands on the other man’s shoulders and making a comment about the immensity of the moment and your shared bond together. Again, the Super Bowl hug is to be used in only the most emotional of moments you will share with another man.
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