Hand Shakes

hand shakesMany years ago I was privileged to shake hands with Nelson Mandela. His hands not only exude warmth and comfort by touch, but they also exhibit an unusually balanced set of lines. Mandela once said “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”. No surprise – he has superb head and heart lines on his magnificent hands!

Peoples’ hand shakes fall somewhere on the scale between limp fish and bone-crusher. Limp and soft handshakes show lack of energy and apathy. Selfishness, or the shaker being egocentric and self=absorbed, is likely. The person is non-committal, inscrutable or even insincere. It is as if they have barely enough interest in you to greet you! This person may also be depressed, especially if the hand also feels moist. Chronic or acute emotional crisis, and a lack of coping skills and resourcefulness could also be indicated. Take care not to conclude the person to be selfish and egocentric until you have intuitively ‘decided’ (this is where intuition begins to become a part of your technique) whether they are ill or depressed.

A firm shake from someone with dry skin (fire element) shows survival skills, practical energy and vitality. This person is pragmatic, and may even be skeptical of anything but ‘the tried and the true’. A firm shake from a moist hand indicates anxiety, vulnerability and stress. Moisture (water element) indicates emotional sensitivity, but the firmness (fire/earth element) shows enough determination to overcome difficulties.

Very occasionally the bone-crushing shaker is genuinely so full of the joy of life that they do not realize how strong they are. They are so out of touch, insensitive or ‘thick skinned’ and spiritual refinement is reduced. Consider the possibility of misogyny if it is a man, or cruelty. They may also be arrogant, or exhibitionistic. Your confronting ‘ouch’ mostly leads to an apology for ‘not meaning to hurt you’. Sometimes defensive, this person could be in a degree of denial, or an aspect of their life may be out of control. A hand held longer than necessary wants something, or is seductively signaling attraction. Respect shows when the hands are offered on the same level.

  • Different cultures have associated styles of handshakes – these must be taken into consideration before making your assessment.

The consistency of the hand, which can be assessed during a handshake, shows the person’s energy potential. Soft hands show less energy and physical activity is not particularly enjoyed. Indolence and self-indulgence are likely, although often soft hands show a developed astuteness or even shrewdness. A hard hand, which has no “give” to the flesh, shows the realist. This person is more extrovert and energetic, and most often is a hard worker. Their emotions may be repressed however, as the hard-handed prefer to get on with life rather than to emotionally ‘excavate’ too deeply.

Dutch psychologist and hand analyst Martijn van Mensvoordt has offered the world a unique and rich presentation of Mandela’s hands. I urge you to visit:


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