It’s stealth. It’s power. And it’s at your own fingertips. Forward to the office staff and print for the kids at home, for we have suggestions for handshakes done right.1. Stand for handshakes. Unless you’re physically unable or cannot move within the confines of space (at a restaurant booth, for instance), handshakes are offered and received in an upright stance.
2. Know the rules of handshake initiation. I’m frequently asked which gender should first extend their hand. In business situations, gender is irrelevant. What matters is a person’s organizational rank. Generally, a handshake should be offered by the person of higher authority to the person of lower status. Examples? The Director of HR extends to the job candidate, the dinner host to the guest, and my department head to any communication student.
That said, I believe there’s room for adaptation, flexibility, and a slight bending of rules you find buried in pages of etiquette books. One CEO confided that when someone extended a hand to him first, he viewed the gesture as a bold move, signaling confidence and assurance.
3. A proper handshake begins when the web of your hand meets the web of another’s hand. The “web” is the curved expanse of space from the top of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. Once connected, shake several times while maintaining direct eye contact. Sounds simple and yet surprisingly, not always done.
I’m Catholic. I also score high on “affection” levels of personality profiles. You won’t be surprised to learn I anticipate the portion of service where I shake hands with fellow congregants while saying “Peace be with you.” I notice that while people connect with me through touch, their eyes have already moved onto the next person in the pew. While we may be touching, we are not authentically connecting. Catholics! I beseech; eye contact, please.
Churches aren’t the only place needing improvement. Take corporate America. Take, let’s say, the common occurrence of a group introduction. Most people shake hands with person A while their eyes have already moved onward to Person B. You’re losing your opportunity to create a genuine human connection. Remember that handshake + direct eye contact = best impact.
4. Offer a firm handshake. Firm, I suggest. The key is solid warmth; not debilitating misery. In an attempt to convey confidence or even signal dominance, some people overcompensate and press too hard. There’s a difference between firmly-applied pressure and forcibly-inflicted pain.
Your web meets their web, reasonably firm pressure applied, direct eye contact engaged, an authentic smile offered, the person’s name pronounced correctly (my last name is Loo-CHOE-knee, by the way), and we’re in business.
5. People shouldn’t hurt for your fashion. Oversized rings worn on the right hand can deeply press into your partner’s skin, triggering physical hurt. The image consultant in me recognises larger-scaled cocktail rings are the current fashion trend. Wear them, but perhaps do so on the left hand. That way, you’re on-trend without causing people pain. Attractive and aware; always good manners.
6. Consider age and health issues. My parents are in their mid-seventies and while my father would scoff, the simple truth is some elderly hands demand more delicate treatment. In fact, some people suffer from illness and their weakened state precludes dramatic pressure. A good rule of thumb while your thumb’s a part of Operation Handshake? Follow the other person’s lead.
7. Use a handshake to reap the halo effect. The University of Alabama conducted a revealing study you should know. Info is power and all that. Notice the positive and negative associations affiliated with a handshake done right or conversely, wrong.
A Man’s Weak Grip
Anxious & Shy A Man’s Firm Grip
Extraverted & Self-Assured A Woman’s Weak Grip
Introverted & Insecure A Woman’s Firm Grip
Confident & Assured8. Offer your hand after an introduction has been made. My past habit has been to extend my hand ASAP, even while the introducer is in active introduction mode. Regrettable consequence? I’m so busy presenting my hand I don’t catch the person’s name, which is the whole reason for this process. I now wait before I present my paw. My former bad has become my current good.
9. Fortune 500 executives were once asked to name their biggest “turn-offs”. While I understand the number one response (arrogance), my heart dropped at the second (a sweaty handshake).
That lame advice to wipe your hands on your pants? Come on. Get real. You have additional options. Botox is one selection that several clients have used and adored, although it’s not inexpensive and must be repeated every several months. Some may view as a radical solution. To the contrary; if you’re one of the estimated 2% of Americans who suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating of the body), this can be a lifesaver. Explore, please.
While Botox is used for sweaty hands, there are two antiperspirants you should know for excessive underarm sweat: Drysol and Certain-Dri antiperspirants. I’ll never forget the student who complimented me on end-of-quarter course evaluations. She wrote that after four years of college, knowing this product existed was some of the best tuition money she ever spent.
Follow my image/etiquette tips (http://twitter.com/#!/ImageProfessor ) to become the leader who knows, not the follower who’s guessing. I’d welcome your follow, Reader.
© 2011 LisaMarie Luccioni/The Image Professor, All Rights Reserved
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