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How to Give a Great Handshake

How to Give a Great Handshake

November 7, 2012
By Tess Romanski

First impressions last, and oftentimes a handshake is the gateway to a good first impression. Learning how to execute the most effective handshake can convey your most attractive qualities as a person. Whether it is a potential employer, a famous person, or someone you just met on the street, a good handshake is a first impression that will last a long time in someone's mind.

There are many places online that have tips for getting the perfect handshake, and most of them are in agreement as to what the best handshake can convey. A soft handshake can show insecurity or fear, while an abrupt or quick handshake could convey arrogance. A person's handshake can speak volumes as to their character, personality, and mood, despite the brevity and formality. A strong handshake conveys confidence, stability, trustworthiness, and friendship. In a professional setting, this is just the kind of first impression you want to leave people with. A firm grip shows confidence, enthusiasm, and commitment.

The handshake itself is not the only important part, however. A strong handshake is nothing without these other tips that will make you seem more able to handle challenges and show your strength.  Perhaps one of the most important things to remember to do when executing a handshake is to also look the person in the eyes. Eye contact is crucial in a professional setting, and shaking hands with a new person is no different. Avoiding eye contact can be seen as a nervous or untrustworthy trait. Maintain eye contact, but not to the point where you are staring the person down- engage the person and make them know that you see them.

Another crucial aspect of the handshake is remembering the person's name and repeating it during the handshake. When you greet a person by their name, you are implying to them that "you are important enough to me that I bothered to remember your name." A handshake is the most important part of first impressions, and remembering the person's name is the most important part of that handshake. You must give the impression that you are engaging the person verbally and emotionally as well as physically in order to make a great first impression.

Lastly, you want to make sure you have correct placement of your left hand. Societal norms indicate that people shake with their right hands, but simply having a strong right hand is not enough to have a good handshake. Depending on the situation, using your left hand to touch the other person on the shoulder or elbow will show intimacy and enthusiasm. This technique is used primarily when meeting with someone important or influential for the first time. However, some situations are better left with just a shake with the right hand. If you are holding things in your left hand, it is better to simply have a quick shake with your right hand. Use your judgement to determine if more physical contact would improve your image as a viable candidate or make you seem too eager and desperate. 

Handshaking is one of the most important skills in today's professional world. Creating a positive image of yourself as respectful, enthusiastic, and happy to meet the person can open doors to opportunities you didn't even know were possible. Having appropriate eye contact, good physical contact with your shake and left hand, and remembering the person's name will all be crucial to creating a good first impression.