In America, shaking hands is a typical greeting, especially between men. However, it is also appropriate between a man and a woman. It is important to know that men and women shake hands differently. In today's society, men and women meet in business environments that differ from past experiences, thus creating confusion regarding introductions.
It was 1871 and the noon stage had just arrived with a cloud of dust in the quaint and busy town. The stairs were put down and a woman stepped out. Her gown was blue and trimmed with lace. A hat with a feather shaded her dark brown hair that was caught up in a twist. The townspeople looking on found themselves unable to stop staring. A gentleman came forward and offered to take her bag.
"You must be from the ranch," she asked sweetly. "Mitchell?"
"Yes, ma'am, I'm to take you to meet the family."
She extended her small hand, and he gently shook it, "Pleased to meet you, ma'am."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Mitchell."
In contrast, men and women of today meet in conference rooms, dressed in suits, negotiating new ideas. Therefore, the line that once divided manners between men and manners from men to women, has faded.
A man shakes another man's hand firmly.
It's a bit different for a woman. When you are introduced to a man, it is your place to extend your hand. This is especially true in the Southeast, and it is considered rude for the man to extend his first. It is the lady's choice whether or not she wants to shake hands. While men grip tightly, palm to palm, a woman should extend her hand palm downward, and the man should take only her fingers in his hand and squeeze gently before releasing.
Eye contact is very important in order to insure your undivided attention. Eye contact also communicates trust and confidence.
While many people will say that these guidelines are archaic, they are traditions that were set by people who took manners seriously and they are worth consideration. While women have entered into realms that typically belonged to men, femininity is something to treasure. Shaking hands in the proper manner is a way to preserve that treasure. Society can only be enriched by practicing the specific manners and social graces of the past.