The Art of the Handshake

Why does a handshake matter so much? Research suggests that within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, you will have made an impression. And that first impression may be always linked with your handshake. A handshake can be a dealmaker OR a deal breaker. You are not alone if you have sometimes felt awkward during a handshake. Here are some tips to get more comfortable with handshaking – or not having one at all:

1. Context
  • Is your greeting an Interview, or a group business event?
     o If an Interview, you will want to wait for your Interviewer to extend their hand. In the case of a group event, it is more polite to first shake hands with the most senior VIP in the room, if you recognize that person, or to start with those closest to you.

2. Physicality
  • Find the right distance with your contact – you should still have a slight bend in your elbow. Give your handshake and then take a small step back. Gauge their response (which could be a step forward, backward, or staying in place). You just don’t want to invade their personal space.
  • Face the person. Keep your body adjacent or squared to them.

3. Non-Verbal Considerations
  • Establish direct eye contact as you present your hand. Do not look down or away.
  • Present a natural and pleasant smile as you make your introduction.

4. Hand-to-Hand Contact
  • Your hand should remain vertical and straight during the handshake. This will put you and the other person in equal positions of power.
  • Deliver a FIRM handshake (not too much or too little pressure).
  • When shaking, be sure to connect with the fleshy part of the hand (palm to palm). Avoid only shaking the fingers.
  • Two to three pumps is standard. You don’t want to overdo it! The movement should be small and precise.

5. And finally
  • Do NOT offer a hand that is sweaty. Carry a handkerchief (or discreetly rub your hands against your pants, or skirt before you shake)
  • If you are sitting, stand to shake a person’s hand.
  • Do not offer your hand if the other person in not paying attention.
  • Avoid a double-hand shake. This is a power move that can offend.
  • Begin conversation immediately. This is not the time for awkward silence!

Now that the connection is made, have a robust conversation!

By Phil Kimmi | Posted in ,