The handshake. How important is it you may ask? It is. Please read.
I was with a group of friends this past weekend and we had just met a small group of people for the first time, and once we all got back in the car, we were discussing their handshakes, for a good 20 minutes. The weak ones, the good ones, the mediocre ones, so on and so fourth….
I mean it seems simple, right? But that is what stems a first impressions. Whether it be a friendly encounter, a job interview, meeting the significant other’s parents for the first time… you know, the list goes on.
I’ll never forget my teacher in high school, senior history teacher to be exact, graded us on our handshakes. No joke, one by one we had to go up in front of the entire class to shake his hand – and it was an actual grade. He then spent the entire class lecture expressing how important a handshake was – the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts.
In short, what NOT to do – here’s a list of the ultimate handshake blunders:
Or the “Politician” handshake, is when there’s an extra hand placed either on top of your hand, shoulder, neck, etc. This is acceptable if it’s a friendly meeting, or there had been previous engagement, otherwise, you’re invading personal space. Make sure not to overdo it with this extra little “touch” – it means more than you think.
We get it, you’re a big dude (at least on the inside) and you want people to know that you’re in charge. This is when the hand is extended, palm facing the ground, forcing the other person to grab your hand palm up. This means, they’re underneath you, submissively. Come on, this isn’t a game, and don’t be that guy.
The one always make me feel like I’ve just shaken hands with a WWE wrestler, or something of the sorts; to the point where I’ve had to shake my hand out after the fact, and nobody wants that. Yeah, you should definitely have a nice firm grip, but not one that feels like you’re breaking the other person’s hand. I mean really, I like my bones and I like my hand – please don’t hospitalize me.
And my favorite of all…
The Dead Fish
On the opposite end of the spectrum, from the bone crusher, is the dead fish. I mean, I guess it kind of speaks for itself, but let’s get serious for a minute. It is by far the absolute worst [in my opinion] most limp, unworthy “handshake” there is. When you meet someone, show excitement and enthusiasm! Not this lifeless, limp, effortless, so-called “handshake” thing that you’re putting forth. It can ruin a meeting, interview, or anything before it even begins. I can also pretty much guarantee that it will be talked about after the fact, as well. And don’t even get me started on the “just fingers”, either…
Now, for the what TO do!
This is so incredibly important! When you’re first shaking hands with someone, it’s pertinent to look them in the eye as it portrays confidence and attention to the person. You want whoever you’re meeting to know that you’re listening to them, and eye contact it a great way to display that. If you’re staring past them, or off into space, it obviously shows that your mind is elsewhere.
When I say firm, I mean firm – not bone crushing as mentioned as above. It needs to be light, balanced, and evenly distributed. A good handshake comes from the elbow, and the forearm remains firm and steady.
When you’re meeting someone for the first time, or even being reacquainted a second or third time, show the person that you’re happy to see him or her. Nobody wants to converse with someone who has a smug look on their face. A nice smile can definitely go a long way. Just don’t overdo that, either, otherwise you’ll look extra eager and might freak them out.
If you’re seated when being approached, always always always stand up to shake their hand. If you’re already standing, keep your hands out of your pockets, look attentive and make sure to face him or her straight on. Again, the smile and eye contact come into play here – make sure to keep both of these in mind at all times.
So, as previously mentioned, due to a short rant with friends over the weekend, ergo this post. And shout out to my high school history teacher, Mr. Conley, thanks for teaching me how to perfect a handshake, I know it’s definitely helped along the way.