My first handshake in The Netherlands happened when my supervisor welcomed me as a new member of his lab. 'Wow, he is a gentleman', I thought, but it was a very hard handshake indeed. I felt a little bit strange but soon relieved, and I thought it was just his style. But shortly afterwards, I found it was a normal phenomenon here and it seems that Dutch people want to show their power through hard hand-shaking. One of my colleagues even told me that she found her ring not a circle any more just because too many people shook her hand powerfully at a scientific conference.
When I discussed it with my friends, they warned me not to shake hands in this way when I come back to China. They also studied here for a long time, so some of their actions are now in Dutch style even if they do not notice it. They felt surprised when their family members laughed at them for being 'impolite' when they returned home. They realized staring into people's eyes and powerfully shaking people's hands is improper, especially towards the elderly or ladies. In China, a handshake should be symbolic and sometimes you just need to gently shake four fingers because some ladies do not want to show you their palms. So, just save your energy and show your tough side to all your Dutch friends only. If you can win the trial of strength they will like you.
Yue Lu, a Chinese PhD student in the Microbiology Lab