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: or 310–425‑3160