Google+ Sandra's Stories: Handshake gone wrong

Monday, 28 January 2013

Handshake gone wrong

One thing I really like about living in Japan is that people don’t usually touch each other when they greet. The great thing about this is that you always know what to do: nothing. There is zero risk of an awkward handshake. In Australia however, I’m always a bit clumsy when I meet people. Should I shake hands? Or should I be more ladylike and warm and give them a hug or a side-cheek kiss? Or is that too familiar?

An awkward handshake

My handshake awkwardness started early in life – during year nine of high school. I experienced a handshake that went terribly wrong, and I blame it for all of my future greeting mess-ups. It happened when I was taking table tennis for school sport. My friend and I had been playing a game against one of the teachers. Let’s call him Mr Tennis. The bell had just rung for the end of the period…

Mr Tennis approached me with his hand outstretched. I assumed that he was being a good sport, and wanted to shake my hand. So I shook his hand and said ‘good game’. But then, Mr Tennis put his hand out again. For some reason, my stupid brain instantly interpreted this as: ‘Mr Tennis is challenging me to a hand squeezing competition’. So I grabbed his hand and I squeezed and squeezed and squeezed. When I’d finished squeezing as hard as I could, I released his hand and looked up at him triumphantly. Mr Tennis said ‘Wow that was a strong hand shake. Now give me your table tennis racquet. That’s what I was asking for.’

And so began my lifelong affliction of graceless handshakes...


  1. Disaster!!! But how were you to know he wasn't challenging you to a hand squeezing competition!!

  2. I used to have to teach handshaking in my Business English classes....who knew it could be so hard to learn!

  3. Ooops how embarrassing.