Shaking hands is an important skill in controlling and interpreting the messages of body language. Well executed, the handshake is the secret weapon of those who are aware of its power in making a good, positive and often permanent impression.
If you are a business networker, professional fundraiser, executive or in demand social butterfly, this body part is capable of transmitting and receiving important messages to, for and by you.
Your first act of connection in most of our business and social circles is the handshake.
All that you are: confident, shy, liberal thinker, intellectual or even neurotic, some across in your handshake. Since it all happens so quickly, let’s get right to it.
How to Shake Hands – the best practices and what you will project
Maintain eye contact and you will project confidence
Smile fully and you will convey friendliness
Extend your hand first and you will display personal power, confidently
Grasp the other person’s hand firmly but shake for only about 3 seconds so as not to be overly friendly on a first meeting.
Looking tall is essential at any actual height and it helps portray a confident look. Stand upright when you greet someone. Putting your shoulders back naturally will also elongate you and you will relay calm and control.
Here’s a tip from my days as a professional meeting and event planner. Be ready to smile and extend a hand spontaneously. This means you should move your food and drink to your left hand and free your right for greetings.
And this from my special office across from my General Manager’s corner office, separated only by the executive washroom where one could hear whose hands would be safe to shake: Dry your hands well before heading out to work a room.
Do you have sweaty hands? Run cool water over them before you begin your networking moves around a room. Men can easily slip a tissue into their right hand suit pocket, just in case.
Comfort in initiating the handshake is important, so carry on as a dry, calm and confident conversationalist.
Compare your habits and the tips above with what you observe in the next few weeks.
Test your new insights especially as you watch the news. See how political people, dignitaries and you might even sneak a peek at how Royals move in the act of receiving and gracing others with greetings.
Try to model these insider tips in your own movement through your own business and social circles:
Dominate the exchange by gently turning the vertical grip sideways. You’ll see this when world leaders such as the Russian and American presidents shake hands and vie for position where the back of their hand is visibly on top. If the other will not yield, you may see them covering the joint clasp with their left hand,
regaining top position Check it!
Right has might. In our culture, the more your right hand shows, the stronger your position. Notice this when powerful people get their photos snapped while shaking hands. An advanced move on this is moving the left hand up to the bicep of the other person’s hand and patting or holding it while you shake hands and establish who’s got the grip on control!
VIP for Women – Be aware that men will often try any of the above ‘power positions’ on you. Lock your elbows in a right angle as much as possible so they can’t take your arms for a ‘spin around your personal zone’. You can push his arm right back into his own zone easily. He won’t have his arms locked because he will not expect it. Brief eye contact, sans smile will quickly re-establish your own space and power.
Next time: New points on personal space.