How To Give A Better Handshake
Job interviews, work meetings, introductions to the in-laws, greeting guests, networking events – there are many situations where your handshake is an important part of forming your first impression. With this in mind, giving a good handshake is a great skill to hone.
While there is proper etiquette to follow and certain things you should always avoid, all of this is quick and easy to learn; simply use these tips to give a better handshake and you will get the hang of it in no time.
Always Stand Up
Rising to shake someone’s hand and fully turning to face them is an instant sign of respect, as well as common courtesy. A 20-degree lean forward is said to be the perfect angle as you reach for their hand and maintain eye contact (no intense creepy stares please) throughout. This body language all goes to show you are engaged and interested in the person, setting you up for a successful handshake.
Reach Out First
It is always fine to be the first to reach for a handshake. In fact, it portrays confidence and good interpersonal skills, especially handy (excuse the pun!) if you are in a job interview as you could be instantly showing them you meet the person specification and would be great to work with.
Dry Your Hands
We all get nervous and annoyingly, nerve-wracking times often coincide with when you need to give a quality handshake. If sweaty palms are a problem for you, discreetly give your hand a quick wipe on your trousers before you reach for a handshake. You might worry that this will give you away as anxious but actually, it is much less noticeable than a sweaty handshake. It should also go without saying that clean hands are also a must, so wash them shortly before your meeting.
Even if your handshake is all off, if the person you are meeting sees a genuine smile on your face, you can guarantee they will still get a good vibe from you. There is no point giving the perfect handshake if your face is miserable, as the latter is what will leave the lasting impression. It does not matter who you are meeting, we all warm to a sincere friendly smile unless of course, the situation calls for a more sombre tone.
Shake From Your Elbow
A shake from the wrist might come across a little weak, a shake from the shoulder way too forceful – you don’t want to pull their arm out of its socket. For the perfect middle ground, gently shake from your elbow. Practice each and you will see how big a difference it makes.
Not Too Short, Not Too Long
‘How long should I hold a handshake?’ – probably the most asked question in regard to handshake etiquette. Three to four seconds is generally seen as the perfect length; long enough that you are not seen to be disinterested or eager to get away, short enough that it does not become uncomfortable or overzealous. Do not worry about actually needing to count, which may distract you from pleasantries being exchanged. The time to break away will feel natural, probably around two or three shakes.
Not Too Much Pressure
If you think about the most memorable handshakes, we bet you find they have usually stuck in your mind for one reason: being overpowering. A crushing grip is never good, so avoid squeezing so hard the other person is desperate to get their hand away.
That being said, grasp firm enough to prevent a ‘dead fish’ handshake, which can cause people to make assumptions about your character such as being a pushover. A good piece of advice is to follow your acquaintance’s lead and match their pressure.
One Hand Or Two
Sometimes dubbed the ‘politician’s handshake’, at times people will use their spare hand to pat the other’s shaking hand. This is perfectly fine for more personal settings where it is appropriate to be more tactile, such as meeting up with old acquaintances. In a business environment though, you want to stay professional so always stick to only reaching out your right hand.
Never Leave Them Hanging
When someone offers you an extended hand, be quick to take it and do not ever leave them hanging. As you can imagine, a long delay before you accept is awkward for them, while completely ignoring it is downright rude. Either way, the person will not forget your action and how it made them feel, so always be prompt for the best impression possible.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you know in advance that you have a big introduction or meeting coming up, why not do a few rehearsal handshakes with a friend or family member? They can give you feedback, which you can work on and then put your mind at ease by nailing your technique. Just like with anything else, the more you practice the better your handshake will get.
Most importantly, try not to overthink it. Chances are you already give a pretty decent handshake and worrying about it will only make you clammy and tense – the recipe for a bad shake. Keep calm and this will be conveyed in your handshake.
And If It All Goes Wrong?
Don’t sweat it – sure your handshake is important, but it is just one part of your first impression. If you really feel you have made a faux pas during the handshake, a good way to win back the room is to swiftly offer a compliment or make some friendly and polite conversation, all while keeping the rest of your body language positive.
Now you know these tips to give a better handshake, we are certain you will notice a difference in your own and soon perfect the art. Hopefully, you feel more confident, ready to impress with your improved handshake and who knows, it could lead to your next success in life.