Learn to speak with your handshake

What does your handshake say about you? How do your clients and colleagues react to your handshake? Do you give your colleague the same handshake that you extend to a new client? If not, why not? How do you react when someone gives you a “dead fish” handshake? Cold and clammy, I’ll bet!

Want to know more about the “dos and don’ts” of handshaking? Click here to view a slide show of handshaking examples – good and bad –  on the Business Week Magazine website.

How many times a day do you shake a person’s hand? So many times that you probably don’t even think about it.

But you should think about it. Not about the number. You need to examine how your personal handshaking style. You need to be sure that you convey a positive message when you “speak” with your handshake.

Here is why:

New research by University of Iowa business professor Greg Stewart confirms that a firm, solid handshake is an important part of a successful job interview, while a dead fish can end the interview before it even begins.

More important, in fact, than dress or physical appearance, the handshake seems to be a trigger that sets off an interviewer’s overall impression of a person.”

I encourage you to look at the handshaking examples in the Business Week slide show. Here are a few tips:

  • Both men and women should be proactive – don’t wait for someone to shake your hand. Extend your hand first.
  • Ensure that your handshake is firm – not strong – and that you make full-palm contact. The web of your hand touches the web of the other person’s hand.
  • Always make eye contact with the other person when you are shaking hands. This means that you must stand up to greet the other person when you shake hands.
  • Smile when you shake hands.
  • Always keep your right hand available to shake hands.
  • Be aware of “personal space” when you shake hands. In normal situations people will stand about two feet apart. As your relationship develops this distance will narrow.
  • Regardless of your gender, make sure that your handshake is firm. This conveys the message that you are confident and that you are assertive.
  • Start talking – say your name, for example – before you end your handshake.

Your handshake is your calling card. It reflects your personality. It is difficult to “fake.” It leaves a lasting impression of you.

What impression do you want to make? Learn to “speak” with your handshake.

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