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The Art of Canadian Handshake

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The world is aware of the “cliché” that is Canadian politeness which is cliché but true one.

Canada is one country with unwritten, yet palpable conventions of social etiquette and knowing and following these rules is one major way of getting properly integrated into the society.

Handshake predominates as a common means of greeting anywhere in the world and Canada is no exception. Both men and women greet with a handshake, although women may acknowledge with a nod of the head rather than a handshake. This article is to guide you in both the “dos” and “don’ts” of giving a handshake.

However, under current COVID-19 restrictions all these would not apply. Please remember to keep your distance, mask yourself and practice safe socially acceptable rules.

Handshake Rules for when times are normal:

  • Canadians love their handshake firm. No weak or limp handshake entertained!
  • This speaks about your confidence and makes a positive impact on others.
  • Maintain direct eye contact, with a smile while you’re at it. By doing so, you’ll establish trust and set the right tone for a relationship.
  • Don’t overdo the firmness or linger over the handshake for too long.
  • Don’t squeeze the hand. It is rude and you don’t want to come across as being disrespectful and awkward.
  • Do not try fancy hand gestures like fist pumping, backhand slapping unless you are friends with the person.
  • If you’re sitting, stand up and maintain an intentional eye contact. Focus all your attention on the person.
  • If you want to give a hug, please ask.
  • In the same vein, don’t shake and pull the other towards you. However, if you’re first hugged, don’t hesitate. Just reciprocate the gesture.
  • Practice until you get used to the Canadian handshake. Then, just pass it on. Teach the next immigrant and help make them feel more at home.
  • French Canadians may greet each other by lightly kissing both cheeks once, starting on the left.

Click here to listen to this podcast and many more insightful episodes.

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