Skip to main content


BBC Breakfast are running a story this morning about handshakes. Apparently Ed Miliband has a terrible one (the household thinks its all about the angles). The debate has ensued about what a handshake says about a person, and also whether women should have their hands shaken at all (they should apparently have their hand held or be kissed)..

I invite comments..

But, and you need to know I'm pulling a face, how else do you greet people?

In my job there are a whole host of socially awkward situations. People don't quite know how to greet a vicar. They may never have met one before, and they rarely meet new people in this kind of setting. Remember in this that I am working in an inner city unchurched setting.

In this setting the handshake works. Without wanting to sound bad its wholly inappropriate for me to be kissed by the endless lines of people leaving funerals. Its also a bit gross.

Discuss (and you are allowed to say that this is the actual heart of the matter reason why women shouldn't be vicars.. I won't mind, I will merely crush you with my very firm handshake... ;-)).

As to the way one shakes hands; I confess I hate a limp handshake. I don't really like the hand crusher either but its still better than having a warm slab of meat proffered with no energy..

Tell me I'm wrong- am I being a handshake snob? Should I accept the oh so polite kiss on the cheek?

What does your handshake say about you?


Alex Boxall said…
I always find greeting people an awkward situation. Particularly if they are people I know a bit and am not sure at what point the relationship is at... Are we ready to hug, or should we be shaking hands? And with ladies it's even more awkward... It always feels a bit strange baking a girl's hand, particularly in a social contest, but, how long should a greeting hug last? Too quick and it's like you're saying "I don't want to be near you" too long and one's wife (or husband) may start wondering quite how much you do like this other lady... I often resort to standing back until the other person makes the first move, thus resulting in me not having to make any decisions! (also often resulting in no form of physical greeting at all!)

In a busines contest however, a firm, non crushing handshake I definitely the way forward, regardless of gender.

And in have to admit, the one tradition I miss from Anglicanism (I go to a free church now) is the greeting of the vicar at the end. Everyone has equal access and consequently feel able to talk to the vicar if required. There are some people in non-denom churches who have never met the pastor.

Keep up the good greetings, nd net time omeone approaches you to shake your hand, who you know has a limp handshake, offer them a limp hand back... Just to see what would happen! ;-)
Sipech said…
Two shakes, that's my rule! No excessive jiggling of the hand allowed, and there must be distinct vertical movement. No wet fish allowed.

The only people I give special treatment to are plumbers (who pride themselves on trying to crush your carpals) and old ladies, who need special care so as to not break them.
Alex said…
OK, what on earth are you doing watching BBC Breakfast? Shame.

I totally agree though. A nice firm handshake. Certainly no hugs or kisses, for that way lies only horror. Plus I have quite a pointy nose which is quite painful to have thrust into your eye socket when an unexpected, unsolicited and poorly executed mwah mwah goes tragically awry.
Anonymous said…
I have to admit to judging people by their handshake.

I think the only context where I really shake hands is at my dad's Methodist church. This Easter we had 2 services. One led by the male church minister (limp) and one led by a visiting ex-Salvation Army lady (firm).

A limp handshake is preferable to a limp clammy handshake.

Kezzie said…
Oh I dread greetings! My sister told me off for having a loose handshake once, so I try to go for a firm one now, but I had my hand shaken (crushed) by someone when I was young and I was wearing a new ring I'd been given which cut into the side of the fingers either side of it which left bleeding!
And I hate the whole kissing thing- I always go for hugs and end up being kissed on the ear!
But if someone is assertive with their handshakes (but doesn't completely crush) I think that's definitely the way to continue!

Hello by the way- I used to read your blog ages ago through Rach's!
Alana said…
I found this a very cultural thing when I got here. In the US it's definitely a handshake! When I was young someone taught me a very firm, one vertical movement handshake. And, of course, Bill Clinton taught us all that the slight touch on the elbow with the other hand means you really care. :)

I can't abide limp handshakes!

Since in the UK there's definitely been more hug greetings and the cheek kiss (familiar as the double kiss is standard in parts of Canada - French influence).

I'm sad to hear Ed has a bad handshake. How can you lead a country with a limp handshake?

Popular posts from this blog

NO MORE MAGIC BULLET- or why I have stopped watching the West Wing

I love the West Wing. It still rates as one of the most well informed and influential series of the genre. Its speeches have been stolen by people who have osmosed its hope for a better way of doing politics. When we watch it today it holds a very particular kind of resonance because it demonstrates a civility that has been drowned in a sea of hate. It has positive images of a wrestled out faith, is rich with camaraderie and pith and is just good telly.
But its bad for me. 
It pains me to admit this, but the West Wing makes me think I can change the world in a way that is simply not helpful. 
It holds out the present hope that the world can turn on a single conversation. With the brave statement or right turn of phrase one might change the debate, and in turn might change the world entire. The moment in the Oval where they realise that if they take no credit they can save social security. The moment where Donna remembers to pay welfare payments. The realisation that all the NATO people a…

Oxpresidentgate and a Crisis of Generosity

Its been an interesting start to the year for the third sector. As we all get to grips with GDPR (more later), we have been subject to increased media attention as first we reeled from President’s Club revelations to the far deeper impact of this week’s revelations about Oxfam (and others).
There is much that can be written. Undoubtedly there are some in media and politics who will seek to exploit the 1/3 of us who don’t think aid should be sent overseas to change policy off the back of bad behaviour by some people. We could face a drop in giving to international development, as supporting Oxfam is no longer seen as acceptable (like buying a plastic bag). I suspect this will recover at some point, possibly in different form.
However, there is a deeper moral crisis for third sector organisations and my fear is that Christian charities are not immune.
To explore this let me go back a month. The President’s Club- where charities were set to receive significant amounts of money from an…

A very dull post about what I do with my time...

Each year I take a calendar month and record what I do in it. I break each day into twenty minute chunks and note down what happens in each twenty minute block. I don’t do the same for designated Sabbath time (nor do I note each bit of time outside of the beginning and end of a working day, no-one needs to know how long I clean my teeth for).
I categorise each thing that I do (an imperfect science) with a view to getting a handle on what I do with my time. 
This year I did the audit in November (as clergy I always avoid doing this in Lent, Advent or August). 
So- what did I discover?
I work around 55 hours a week. (thats up one hour from last year) That work is spread over five and a half days. The only sabbath day that was interrupted by work was about processing a painful meeting.  Of 26 working days, I worked 12 evenings.
In terms of what I do:
In November 17% of my time was taken up with prayer, reading and learning. Thats a slightly false read as I had a 48 hour away time in there. Prayer…