The Handshake: When should you shake a woman?

I’ve puzzled over this for a while and finally decided to share it. Well I also guess it was ripe to discuss and most importantly the words had finally come together. I’ll now try and set forth my thoughts in articulate language and pique your interest simultaneously. I believe that even though you may have differing opinions on it or agree with any element you’ll share your thoughts on the topic!

You might have observed when chatting in a group (yours truly has anyway) and a guy comes along, the tendency is for him to FIRST acknowledge members of the same species before all else, others pale into insignificance. They extend a hello, hi, morning or whatever with them initially. Secondly, if the handshake (or the modified versions that have evolved) is required (which it seems it usually is) they extend their paws to do the honours. This has ceased to bother me…apparently I’ve noticed it’s an inherent trait in the Nigerian males and supposedly nothing can shake it. The part that GETS me (every time!) is when the person shaking hands, stretches his ACROSS me to the other fellow! In some instances I mistakenly thought I was the recipient and brought out mine only for it to be ignored. Yes, I’m passed over in this ritual.

It’s happened a number of times and I still think it’s shockingly rude! Pardon me if I’m wrong fellows, but the fact that a man deems it totally acceptable to reach across and shake the hand of the other male on my opposite side is NOT right! To add salt to the wound, when they’re through with the others, THEN they decide to say hello. Trust me, I’ve interrupted some of these incidents and abruptly asked the instigator WHY he did it. Can you believe some of them didn’t know they had and couldn’t give a cogent explanation either?

Interestingly though, when this happened, I was also the only female present and outnumbered by the chaps. Sometimes the total number was about five and other times fewer. Again these were informal settings and not workplace, meetings or more formal gathering. In pondering over this matter, these are some of the reasons I’ve often thought of as being responsible for their behaviour. I certainly can’t conceive a formal setting where the same men would do the same thing when introductions of opposite colleagues in business matters were conducted!

I’ve had cause to gleefully interrupt this rite a few times and stopped the process in its tracks. When this occurred, the hand was offered to me but I graciously declined each time. When the process was completed and a handshake was proffered to me, I also declined. One of the most memorable occasions was when the dude didn’t even utter a word or any other gesture until he was done with all the gentlemen. In this case, I think that particular chap had serious issues so this was not typical.

Whilst pondering this situation it crossed my mind that maybe this was the norm rather than the exception. Maybe it wasn’t ill-mannered of the men in our midst to shake the hands of other men first, before giving regard to the women in their company. On the other hand could it be possible that the dudes were at a loss when they spied the feminine gender? Shake hands or not, greet them or not? Could this be a quandary they find themselves in, at every social setting or only one where the rules are not clearly defined?

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  1. Methinks the guys are chickening-out because they do not know the correct etiquette!
    And we all know Naija guys will bluff till Jesus comes, rather than say, them no know!

    “The lady extends or declines with a nod”, is the rule for shaking hands.

    So own the “hello” experience! If you want to, shake away, but, really they are leaving you till last because they are thinking “er, girl, er, what to do???? delay action, shake your guy, and the other one…..fake a phone call, a stroke…haba.. er… oya shake the babe! nothing spoil”

  2. I think sometimes there’s a bit of a difficulty for a guy approaching a mixed group – more pronounced when it comes to the ladies. The modern puzzle of “to hug or not to hug”, with the guys its easier cos even the hug starts with a handshake (then the “pull together” and tap on the back). With a female there’s the mental calculation to determine if a hug would be appropriate, if she’ll be open to or interested in a handshake, how she would interprete it if you offered a hand ( being too forward?)…

    And so in the typical logical nature of the male, he chooses to tackle on the simpler tasks and shakes his fellow men first.

    • @Otherview: It sounds so…logical I guess when you put it this way! Well I suppose we’ll all continue to puzzle it out in our own ways as much as possible.

      I think the issue of hug doesn’t even come in when the woman’s a stranger. I still see nothing wrong in acknowledging her without shaking her either! Simple courtesy me thinks…

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