First Impressions-The Proper Handshake.


The most universal gesture for a greeting is the handshake. It may be the first contact we have with someone new and our handshake really says a lot about who we are. The idea is to bring people in by shaking hands, not repel them. To shake hands properly, extend your right hand. The palm should be facing sideways with the thumb up and the fingers extended away from you. When you shake you want to make sure you are meeting hands web-to-web (the area between your index finger and thumb). The whole arm should not move, only the forearm from the elbow down. Shake with two smooth pumps and then release. Your grip should be firm, not too strong and not dangling like a limp fish.

Common Mistakes

* The Wet Fish
– This is the type of handshake where the person touches only the tips of your fingers. This handshake feels a bit distant and aloof as if the person isn’t invested in meeting you.

* The Bone Cruncher – This is the type of handshake where it literally feels as if the person is crunching the bones in your hand. This handshake makes you feel as if the person has something to prove or that they are trying to wield their strong power over you.

* The Thumb Pincher – This is the type of handshake where the person presses down too firmly with their thumb and gets you right in that sensitive pressure point. The person offering this type of handshake is perceived as nervous or a bit uncomfortable.

*The Endless Handshake – This is the type of handshake that seems to go on forever where the person has absolutely no clue when to let go. The person who offers this handshake appears overly enthusiastic and a bit too eager.

The Business Arena

A strong emphasis is placed on a firm handshake because it speaks loudly about credibility, confidence and professionalism. Make sure every meeting begins and ends with a handshake. In a professional setting, it doesn’t matter who offers a hand first; however, the person who extends a hand first typically has an advantage because it shows initiative and is perceived as being in control.

Neglecting To Shake Another’s Hand

Neglecting to shake another person’s hand is considered a very rude offense. There is nothing worse than extending your hand for a handshake and having it rejected by the other person, no matter what the reason. I recently witnessed one man neglect another man’s handshake by refusing to extend his own hand and instead extending the hand of his son! Unless you have the Swine flu, Whooping Cough or some other contagious infection or disease, always accept an offer to shake hands. If you are particularly worried about germs, you can always go to the bathroom to disinfect or do a rub down with the anti bacterial wipes or liquid.

Eye Contact

A handshake means nothing without making good eye contact and flashing those pearly whites. Emphasis on eye contact is a sign of respect. When shaking hands, maintain good eye contact throughout; display a natural smile and give your undivided attention to the person making them feel as if they are the only person in the room.

The Facts…

* Ladies First
– In a social setting, a lady should always initiate the handshake because a man should never presume that a lady wishes to make physical contact of any kind.
* Stop Signals – If you happen to encounter an endless handshake, simply release the tension of your grip. This will send a non-verbal signal that the handshake has officially ended.

* The Upper Hand
– The person who extends their hand first is perceived to be the most confident and have control of the situation.
* Stand & Deliver – Unless physically unable, a person always stands for a handshake. It is a sign of deference.

* Sweaty Palms
– Suffering from sweaty palms may ruin a perfectly good handshake. An easy remedy is to carry a cloth that can absorb sweat in your pocket or purse. Gently touch the cloth before shaking somebody’s hands. For events or parties where one is expected to shake a lot of hands, try rubbing some unscented antiperspirant on your palms prior to the engagement.


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