The Handshake and What It Says About You

I’ve written a few posts about body language, and how you come across to others. I recently received a request to talk more about the topic (and I aim to please), so today’s topic is all about the handshake.

And that’s the first point. The handshake IS important. When you meet someone, SHAKE THEIR HAND. If your hands are full, free them. If they’re standing across the room, approach them. Ignoring a handshake can be seen as disrespectful, so stand up, free your hand, approach the other person and give them a good firm handshake while making eye contact and smiling.

Now, a few tips about the handshake itself:

Warm your hands. Before you meet with the other party, rub your hands together to warm them up, and wipe them on your clothes to make sure they’re dry. You can also sit with your hands underneath your legs to keep them warm and dry.

Free your right hand. When they enter the room, make sure your right hand is free and clear for the handshake.

Go the distance. Stand too close and you’re invading their space. Stand too far away and you appear uncomfortable and isolated. You should stand far enough away to “extend” your hand to shake theirs, but don’t stand so far away that your body has to lean forward to reach them. If’ you’re not sure, stand still, extend your hand, and let them step in to a comfortable distance.

Get a grip. Never EVER grip too tight, especially if you’re a man shaking a woman’s hand. But a weak handshake is not good either. (ladies, NEVER do the little “fingertip handshake”). Give a good solid handshake without squeezing. It’s courteous and shows confidence.

Good hand positioning. Believe it or not, the angle of your hand is significant. An “underhand shake”, where your palm is up, is a sign of submission. An “overhand shake”, where your palm is facing downward, is a sign of dominance. It’s best to make sure your palm is facing sideways, not up or down. If the other person’s palm is facing upward or downward, you should take their hand and adjust so that both your hands are vertical. This indicates a partnership and equality.

A good general rule of thumb… follow the other person’s lead with everything EXCEPT positioning, which should ALWAYS be vertical.

Hope this helps!