The Handshake is a statement. The handshake is the toss of a coin in an American football game. The other person sets the tone with the way the handshake is performed. The squeeze of the hand can be powerless, powerful, oppressive, mighty, but also balanced. The handshake manifests the other person's attitude towards you. A misjudgment of the handshake can organize and disrupt the hierarchical relationship. If I want to appear dominant, I hope that my counterpart's handshake will be softer than my own. If, however, I miscalculate and go into the handshake with too much benevolence, even putting diplomatic leniency into the handshake, the other person can take me by surprise and put me at a disadvantage with the strong, firm handshake. How I go into a handshake is decided almost intuitively in a very short period of time. Just like the first contact with the enemy on the battlefield, the strategy with which I face the opponent is also weighed up here. Even subtle nuances such as an increasingly stronger handshake or not wanting to let go of the hand are non-verbal notes in the string quartet of togetherness. After the seemingly inconspicuous gesture, nothing has happened outwardly, but the first battle has been fought between the protagonists. One is reminded of Wittgenstein's private language. We engage in a non-verbal dialog with our counterpart and puzzle over their opening move, just like after the first move in a game of chess. The answer can be conciliatory, defensive or aggressive. But once the tone has been set, it is difficult to backpedal.
Avoiding the handshake causes astonishment, because avoiding this custom leaves a power vacuum that needs to be filled. The firm gaze, the outstretched hand and the tense posture are an offer for a private locking of horns. The handshake is the fanfare for a duel.