How To Shake A Hand

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I shake a lot of hands and because of this I experience a variety of handshakes.  There are three things that some people do that make me lose interest in that person or what they have to offer.

Before I get into it, I found a video that briefly covers the three areas I am about to cover.

I really like that video, and not just because it was created before clip on mics. It explains the psychology of what the different handshakes mean.

In business, your handshake is an important part of your first impression and if you make a bad impression it can greatly effect your career.

The least annoying of the three is the limp fish handshake. To me it implies that the person has no confidence in what they do or what they are about. Sometimes they can’t even put in enough effort to slightly cup their hand.

What you can do about it

You have probably shaken hands before or you have at least seen it done. If it is a matter of not enough practice, find a partner and practice shaking hands.

If you have a limp grip, get a racquetball and squeeze it several times a day to build the strength in your hand so you no longer will have a grip of a two year old.

The second type of handshake that annoys me is the hand crusher. A firm grip is important, but it isn’t a squeeze until you feel bones snap type of situation. This is something that is common among high school teenagers, but you need to grow out of it and shake a hand like an adult.

When someone tries to pull that on me and I see their face start to contort as they squeeze my hand, two things come through my mind. First, “don’t you think it is about time to grow up?” and second, “this person is not going to be easy to deal with!”.

What you can do about it

You do know your own strength, so practice applying a firm grip but there is no need to flex your muscles. A handshake is not a contest. Well, it isn’t a contest for everyone else anyway.

The third and most annoying thing I see people do when shaking my hand is not a type of handshake at all. It is something mentioned in the last seconds of the video above… Eye Contact!!

When you shake someones hand, you must look at them in the eyes. To me it implies the person would rather be doing something else, they are granting me the courtesy of shaking their hand, they are trying to get to the person they really want to shake hands with, or something similar to that depending on the situation.

What you can do about it

If you are the one looking avoiding eye contact you probably don’t realize you are doing it, so what you can do is pay attention when you shake someones hand.

If the person you are shaking hands with is avoiding eye contact, say something to them like, “Nice to meet you”, or “Good to see you again”. Speaking to them will often draw their attention back to you.

The next time you shake someones hand be sure to give a firm, but not bone crushing grip and make eye contact.

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