Handshakes… What Does Yours Say About You?

Proper Handshake PictureDid you know that your hand­shake speaks for you? It’s true. Your hand­shake is part of the non-verbal com­mu­ni­ca­tion that peo­ple use to form an opin­ion about you. Your hand­shake is one part of the equa­tion. You are also being judged on your appear­ance, your pos­ture, and even your facial expres­sions. All of these help a per­son form an opin­ion about you and you want to make sure that opin­ion is a pos­i­tive one. The hand­shake is the eas­i­est of these traits to master.

Unless you are in a for­eign coun­try, the accepted greet­ing when meet­ing some­one is the hand­shake. The hand­shake can be bro­ken down into three parts — the ini­ti­a­tion, the grasp and the motion. The ini­ti­a­tion is about tim­ing. Extend­ing your hand too soon makes you look anx­ious; extend­ing it too late makes you look indif­fer­ent. The grasp is about strength. Sim­ply fit your hand into theirs and squeeze firmly. Don’t break the other person’s hand with a crazy death grip. You want to leave a pos­i­tive impres­sion not a painful mem­ory. The motion of the hand­shake is about con­trol. A cou­ple of smooth ups and downs are all that is needed. You are not try­ing to pump water from a well. Fol­low these three easy steps and your hand­shake will leave a pos­i­tive impres­sion each time.

Remem­ber not to squeeze the other person’s hand too hard. You are aim­ing for firm because a firm hand­shake trans­lates pos­i­tively. It tells the per­son that you are con­fi­dent, focused and inter­ested. On the other hand, a weak or limp hand­shake tells the per­son that you are inse­cure, intim­i­dated and uncertain.

In the real world, it is impor­tant to act like a grown up so you always want to use the Proper Handshakeclas­sic hand­shake described above. Don’t high-five. Don’t use some hand­shake you learned in your secret fra­ter­nal orga­ni­za­tion. A sim­ple, firm hand­shake will suf­fice every time.

In con­junc­tion with your hand­shake, you want to make sure you make eye con­tact. Mak­ing eye con­tact tells the per­son that they are impor­tant to you. This is espe­cially true when you are end­ing the meet­ing. Even if the meet­ing did not go as planned, the hand­shake pro­vides you an oppor­tu­nity to leave the per­son with a good impres­sion and mak­ing good eye con­tact reaf­firms that person’s impor­tance to you. Per­fect your hand­shake using the tips above so you can give off pos­i­tive impres­sions each time you meet someone.

Jules Hirst is a sought after speaker and a rec­og­nized eti­quette coach. She con­ducts lec­tures, work­shops, sem­i­nars and webi­nars in busi­ness and social eti­quette. Jules co-authored Power of Civil­ity where she shares strate­gies and tools for build­ing an excep­tional pro­fes­sional image.
Jules can be reached at: www.juleshirst.com or 310–425-3160