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Lessons in Etiquette & Protocol

By Butler Academy

Introduction and handshake


Handshaking is the ultimate greeting.



  • It is an important symbol of respect;
  • To be taken seriously you must shake hand appropriately;
  • You often are judges by the quality of your handshake;
  • The handshake tells you something about the person you meet.



History of handshake:



The ritual of shaking hands arose sometimes during the Roman Empire, not out of courtesy and good will, but out of fear. In order to become friends, you first had to make sure the other man would not attack. You either laid down your weapons or kept your right (dominant) hand away from them, displaying empty palms. To be certain neither of you would grab his sword, you grasped right hand. So the handshake was born, not of friendship but of mistrust.




There is no substitute for a proper introduction.  On the other hand, some people are good at remembering names and faces and others are not.  It takes real effort and is considered an attribute both socially and professionally.


Occasionally everyone forgets a name (first, last or both).  Some people try and weasel out of their embarrassment by saying, “Oh, everybody go and introduce yourselves.”  This is effective, though tacky.


It is a great courtesy to come to the rescue of someone who has had a momentary name blackout.  This is also a swift business tactic to perfect, as with, “Mr Bragg, did I ever introduce you to Mrs Deguerre?”


Public figures who meet literally thousands of people a year and should not be expected to remember everybody’s names will often hire aides who prompt them.  Sometimes it happens that one has casually noticed someone for years (such as in the office) but has never learned his or her name.  If suddenly cornered, there is nothing amiss but stating, “I’m terribly embarrassed, but I don’t believe we’ve ever really been introduced.”



A bluff can sometimes backfire.  If one remembers a first name only, there is the ploy of asking, “By the way, how do you spell your last name?”  This works unless the person responds coolly, “S-M-I-T-H.”


Repeat name.



Handshaking for women came much later. Until the 1930s is was not common to shake hands with a women. The participation of women in the business area has added a new dimension to handshaking. Women now shake hands in business and social situations and there is no difference anymore between men and women in the western culture.



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