It Happened: I Nearly BROKE a Client’s Hand!

Image of client handshake crack

I’m sure you read articles about how to shake a client’s hand—or how not to. About 10 years ago, I once shook the hand of a client, who gave me the lamest, most limp-wristed hand shake ever—and I have always remembered it. Shorty after receiving payment from this client, with no cover letter or thank you note with the cheque, I remembered that dreaded handshake that basically said “I don’t like you”.

Ever since then, I have always given any client [I physically met] a very firm handshake. I never want to give a lame handshake like the one I received 10 years ago. However, recently I went to meet some clients that I was producing some work for (which was large-format prints, so I was physically erecting the display work).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I reached over to shake the client’s hand and I heard and felt every finger of his give a mighty CRACK. This was then followed by a loud “Ouch!”. To say that I was both embarrassed and concerned was an understatement. Fortunately, he was okay after the event—and I apologised for the incident.

I don’t think my hand shake was particularly too crushing, but I reckon his hand was more fragile than most. In future, I’ll be performing hand shakes with slightly less grip, but still firm—and I hope that I’ll never break a client’s hand.

I learned much from this episode, but I reckon I’ll be paranoid about shaking hands from now on.

Have you had a bad experience shaking a client’s hand? Do you have any other client nightmare stories to share?

15 thoughts on “It Happened: I Nearly BROKE a Client’s Hand!”

  1. Andrew Keir


  2. Andrew Kelsall

    @Andrew → Fortunately though, I was already hired 😉

  3. Gareth Coxon

    Ouch! 😀

    To be fair to you there is nothing worse than a limp hand shake, or one where they just offer their fingers to you. They might as well offer you a wet fish to shake 🙂

  4. David Airey

    When we meet, Andrew, I think I’ll opt for the high-five.

    P.s. Brake/break.

  5. Andrew Kelsall

    @Gareth → I know a designer who once held a meeting with some “big shot” clients from the building industry, who refused to shake his hand at all after their meeting. I suppose a limp hand shake would’ve been better than nothing 😉

    @David → Hehe. I was up in Edinburgh just a few weeks ago for a stag-do, which was a day of Go-carting and paintballing. I also visited the kilt-making factory near the castle and bought a 60% proof bottle of Whiskey for my Dad. Good times!

    BTW, “thanks for the Break”. Amended.

  6. David Airey

    Edinburgh’s great. I left there last Monday, favouring a return to NI with my wife. Much of the past week has been spent ripping up old carpets and stripping wallpaper. Man, I’d love to fast-forward a month or two.

  7. Andrew Kelsall

    @David → Try doing that kind of stuff when you have kids—it’s 10 times as frustrating 😉

  8. David Airey

    I don’t even want to imagine. 😉

  9. Brian Yerkes

    How about when you both go to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek (with a female client of course lol), and you both go the same side….almost full on the lips! That was an interesting moment. Hahaha

  10. Andrew Kelsall

    @Brian → Haha! Well, it’d be even worse if it was a bloke instead of a woman 😉

  11. Rob Cubbon

    I was always told to give a firm handshake rather than a limp fish. Never heard any cracks though!

  12. Drew

    I dont like when you intend to give someone a nice firm handshake and they grab your fingers… instead of your whole hand… thus not allowing you to have any leverage… Tragic.

  13. K True

    I agree. I don’t like limp handshakes either. But last week I received unnecessarily crushing handshakes from two different people. In each case, they seemed like “I’ll show you” handshakes. I wasn’t inclined to continue either of those conversations beyond what was necessary. For me, genuine warmth and confidence trumps bravado every time.