Friday, June 03, 2011

, ,

How Taiwanese shake hands

6/03/2011 Taiwan Explorer
Taiwanese shake hands
An interesting thing so different in Taiwan is the way Taiwanese shake hands. In my home country it's normal, when you meet a new person, to shake hands. Be it a man or woman, shaking hands is a must. The usual procedure would be following: Let's say I'm introducing a person to a person, I would say something like "This is XXX, my colleague. This is XXX, my old friend." I would do so by pointing at each person with my palm and then they would briefly shake hands (medium firm) and say something like "Nice to meet you" to each other.

In Taiwan however there are two types of introducing or meeting people: The casual one, where you get introduced to friends or relatives and the formal one, common in the business world.

In the case of casual encounters, Taiwanese will either shake hands or not. For me it's sometimes very hard to read, whether a person is a hand-shaker. I feel that especially women don't really like to shake hands at the first meeting, they would usually just smile and nod, say "Hello!" or wave at you. Guys are half-half on this, it really depends. And some of them, who do shake, will do it in a very soft way, as if they are shy o awkward doing it. I used to extend my hand a lot, when I came to Taiwan for the first time. But now I'm usually holding it back and just nod, smile and say hello. I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable.

When it comes to business, the picture is completely different. I was a bit surprised, when I had the chance to shake hands with some Taiwanese business men for the first time: Their shake was strong and long. They hold you firmly and don't let go for like over 5 seconds... sometimes even longer. Of course not everybody is that way, but it's definitely common, especially among older people with higher positions. My wife said, that a firm long shake means a person is sincere.

I can't really give good tips on how to do these things the right way, just be prepared for everything and try to read the person's way. If they are they shy type, hold your hand back. If they are open and talkative, extend your hand to them. If you meet a boss of a company, shake it firmly and wait for them to let go.

How do you shake hands?

[My UNIQUELY TAIWAN page][Photo by MKL, 2011]