In February of 1978 I sat among a group of women, cynically scrutinising our instructor as she taught us ‘Palmistry’. I’d been roped into attending the course because my friend Becky had not wanted to attend the course alone in the evenings.

By lesson three my cynicism had evaporated and I was alert to the subject at hand. It occurred to me that our hands might well be God’s own ‘soup label’ detailing our ingredients (characteristics) suggested uses (possible careers or a suitable life path) and a general ‘use-by’ date (lifespan).

Eighteen years later I stood in a room filled with sales people who ignored me as they breakfasted on assorted hot and cold delicacies. I was appearing as a motivational speaker; my subject for the day was “What your handshake reveals about you”.

When I mentioned that a ten second handshake can reveal up to ten aspects of a person, the conversation came to an abrupt halt. All eyes followed me as I paced across the platform. Any good salesperson knows that getting into rapport with clients or customers is essential; the secrets that handshakes reveal were eagerly sought. Sausages began to congeal in oil on large plates and eggs cooled as the audience ignored the food in favour of knowledge which might increase their sales success rate.

The secrets? They involved being present and aware as you shake a stranger’s hand.

Most of us tend to be too focussed on remembering the person’s name to notice their handshake, so I had to impress upon the crowd to begin practising noticing the hands of friends and colleagues when they were offered. As they already knew the person’s name, they were free to focus on other things.

The size of the hand
is the first thing to be aware of, as the smaller the hand the more the person seeks large projects. In most cases don’t expect a small handed person to have much patience for repetitive detail. Larger handed people tend to be more patient with details. This is often the reverse of what we expect, especially when we hear things like “His long fingered narrow hands would be perfect for playing the piano.” Most pianists have shorter, square hands, which are more suited to the effort required in diligently practising the instrument daily. Long fingered people might appreciate the sound of a well played piano, but don’t necessarily have the discipline to practice until they are proficient.

If you want a jeweller to set a tiny stone into a ring, you’re better off having someone with large hands doing it.

If you sought someone to manage a team or oversee a project, you are likely to have better results from someone with smaller hands.

The moisture of the hands
is also important, as it reveals whether the person has an intellectual or a sensual approach to life. Moist hands reveal a sensual approach whereas dry hands confirm a more mental approach to problem solving and to friendships.

This is shown when you meet moist handed people. They like to touch you, with a hug, a hand on your shoulder or perhaps a kiss. Dry handed people can appear more aloof, as they prefer to converse with you instead of touching you, in order to mentally discover who you are.

Soft handed people tend to run out of energy easily, which makes them unsuited to physically demanding tasks. If soft hands are also moist, you have someone who can be indolent. At first opportunity they seek somewhere to sit and to relax.

This was the case with Giulia, one of several housemaids I supervised in a large hotel many years ago. Her soft moist hands revealed a dreamy nature, unsuited to the demands of a large hotel, where cleaning ten rooms and making as many beds in a shift was average. While other housemaids managed their tasks with time to spare, Giulia rarely completed six rooms in a shift. She complained that she was always given the messiest rooms. Her soft hands suggested that the rooms were probably not the problem. I arranged for other housemaids to check in on Giulia throughout each shift and they reported that they often found her watching television or curled up on a freshly made bed, reading a book.

Firm handed people tend to be restless, full of energy and capable of prolonged effort, making them more suited to jobs which require physical exertion. Needing to channel their energy, these people can become frustrated and easily irritated without an outlet. An example of the types occurred at another talk recently. The president of the organisation greeted me when I arrived. I was surprised at his soft, moist hands. His hands suggested that he was easily tired, yet he appeared to have mustered 150 people for the talk that evening. This involved organising the hall, the seating, refreshments a temporary lectern and effective publicity. Moments later his wife approached me, juggling a few boxes in one hand. She laughed heartily as we shook hands. Her strong, firm, dry hands suggested to me who had in fact organised the crowd. He was the president but she was the person putting in the effort to make the event a success.

The temperature of the hands can give a clue to the person’s blood circulation, as poor blood circulation tends to leave hands and feet cold in the colder weather and hot in the warmer weather. Allowing for the fact that the person may have recently stepped in from a blizzard or out of a sauna, the more balanced the temperature of the hands, the better the blood circulation. The better the blood circulation, the more active and motivated the person is likely to be.

In a recent palmistry workshop, we were moving around the room, exploring and comparing hands when I came across a woman whose fingertips were purple. It was a 30 degree day outside and she had been inside the air-conditioned building for at least 30 minutes. Touching them confirmed the assessment. They were cold and upon close scrutiny she appeared tired and listless.

The next thing to observe is the smoothness of the fingers. This can be done before or after a handshake. In fact it can be done on a train, while standing in a queue or while chatting with a client. It is essential to notice how knotty the fingers are at the lower knuckles (those closest to the palms).

Knobby Palm

Knotty fingers

The more prominent the lower knuckles, the more the person enjoys detail. Those with prominent or knotty fingers are usually reflective, love order and exactness. They are often keen to know how and why things work. They can have a messy desk but they find it easy to put their hands on anything they need in among the mess. When these people set out to buy something important or expensive, they need to research their intended purchase and then sleep on their decision. If they rush in, they’ll usually regret it. If they take their time, they are often so well informed about the product or service they purchase, that they can sell it to others.

Smoother fingers from tip to base belong to people who can easily see the big picture. These people make decisions rapidly and accurately. They are quick minded, yet can become impatient with detail. They size up a situation quickly and their first impressions are usually correct. They like making quick decisions, so detailed work is best handed to some else. Smooth fingered people tend to be more impulsive. These people can walk into a shop, quickly deciding which product or service satisfies them, before walking away with a suitable deal in record time. An example of the primary difference between smooth and knotty fingered people occurred with Renita and her mother.

Smooth fingered Renita and her knotty fingered mother were shopping for an outfit for Renita. They entered a shop and Renita walked directly towards the clothes rack which appealed to her. She selected a garment and a pair of shoes to match, before making her way to the counter. Her mother was horrified.

“What about looking around?” she asked.


“Well, you might find something more suitable, or a cheaper outfit.”

Renita reluctantly agreed, and they spent the next three hours searching through a dozen boutiques before collapsing in a café. After fortifying themselves, they decided to give up searching before returning home. On their way back to the car park they passed the first shop again. Renita decided to take one more look at the initial outfit she had chosen. She loved it and purchased it immediately.

“You know mum, we could have saved ourselves an afternoon if you had simply let me buy this when I saw it.”

“How could you buy the first thing you see? At least you’ve seen the other outfits and you know that you prefer this one.”

Smooth fingers

Smooth fingers

If smooth fingered people take too long to decide they become confused, whereas if knotty fingered people decide too quickly, they usually have to live with a mistake. Impulse buying suits smoother fingered people whereas research suits those with knotty fingers. To decide if your fingers are smooth or knotty, simply take a pen and a piece of blank paper and trace one hand. If the traced knuckles appear swollen or easily evident at a distance of a metre, you have knotty fingers.

(c) Copyright 2012 Paul Fenton-Smith.

Paul offers personal palm readings in Epping NSW, distance readings from photographs and one palmistry course each year.