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This physical tactic is less concerned with the vigor and quality of the handshake, than what it means in terms of consummating the deal itself. In many cultures, the dealing parties act offended at the suggestion of a formal written contract; in some communities that have low populations and familial ties, a handshake is the deal. Unfortunately, verbal or otherwise non-recorded accords are difficult to prove, and professionals cannot rely on them. In professional negotiations, insistence on a handshake-only deal may be a manifestation of a common approach of individuals with Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder (refer to this section under Personal Tactics Group[iv]). It can be an attempt to keep the deal ambiguous so as not to be accountable for a result. Legally, while some oral contracts may be binding, all are hard to prove.


We know the form: “Let’s shake on that, partner.”


If the other party is insistent, handle this by playing the forgetful negotiator. You might say, “I want to remember the terms and I am forgetful, so I need them in writing.” A written contract is the best evidence of a meeting of the minds. Unless “course of prior dealing” or “industry standard” facts are unimpeachable, a handshake is not provable.

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