Have you every had your hand crushed or tickled or rejected instead of simply being shaken?
I remember on one occasion when a person looked at my outstretched hand and ignored it. He told me later, he used it as a technique to put people offside and gain the upper hand. He certainly put me offside and didn’t gain the upper hand.
There are some simple rules for handshaking. The custom probably comes from medieval times when people took off their armoured gloves when meeting and shook hands. It was meant as a display of ‘I’m not going to hurt you – see I’ve taken off my glove’.
A study published in the Journal of Psychology, suggested that a firm handshake makes a good first impression. They defined a firm handshake as strong and vigorous with a complete grip that did not stop too soon or go on too long. Add eye contact and the hint of a smile and everyone is impressed.
The research was probably done by a man. Women seem to have slightly different rules. Try these rules – Extend your hand first and leave it there until the other person responds.
Some people are reluctant to shake hands but will get the idea eventually. If their religion forbids contact, you will get the message and you can sheepishly put your hand away.
Push until you contact the fork between the thumb and the first finger. Don’t get caught half way in and don’t squeeze the ends of people’s fingers. Match the grip of the other person. We like people who are like us and we will certainly like someone who has a handshake like ours. Calibrate quickly and give them exactly what they are giving you.
If you get caught by a ‘gorilla’ handshake, simply say ‘you certainly have a strong handshake’. They are thrilled at the compliment and they stop crushing. Don’t match the ‘gorilla’ handshake. You will look like you are arm wrestling.
Let go last. You will seem reluctant to let go. Let go first and you can give the impression of being keen to let go. Who knows what negative judgement the other will make of this action?
From infancy we enjoy being touched. The handshake is all we have left at work. Shake hands whenever you can. Physical contact creates instant rapport. Remember the simple rules:
- Offer your hand first.
- Don’t get caught at the finger tips.
- Contact palms.
- Match the grip and smile.
- Up and down three times.
- Let go last.
The handshake is not meant to show people how strong you are. The purpose is to contact people, to create a positive impression, to make people feel comfortable with you. See how many people you can get to shake your hand today.