The research is clear. A good handshake can make you, a bad handshake can break you. But what makes a good or bad handshake? Learn the three simple steps to crafting the perfect handshake.
- Neuroscience research from the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that strangers form a better first impression of those who offer their hand in greeting. This means it's a great idea to lead with a handshake. However, not all handshakes are created equal. Here are my five steps to giving the perfect handshake. Number one, palm to palm. The first goal of your handshake is to get palm to palm as quickly as possible. You want the palm of your hand to align with theirs.
The trick here is never to give someone just your fingertips or stop too short. This will make it so you're finger to palm, which is not good for connection. Number two, vertical. Once you're palm to palm, always keep the handshake vertical. This means keeping your thumb pointed towards the sky and your pinky pointed towards the ground. Never flip someone's hand up or down, and try very hard not to offer your hand facing palm up or palm down. Always offer your hand in the ideal vertical position. This allows you to have an equal handshake.
If you flip up or down, it's hard to get a nice reciprocal squeeze. Number three, pump it. Most handshakes have between one and three pumps. Typically, we pump three times on a first meeting. It's as if we have to pump for each word, nice meeting you. When we're in a rush or have met someone before, we typically only do one pump as a quick hello. What's important here is to not over-pump. Have you ever had that awkward moment where someone just won't stop the handshake and it goes on and on forever and ever? Those are the worst.
Whatever you do, don't be an over-pumper. Number four, reciprocal. The biggest question I get about handshakes is how firm is too firm and how soft is too soft? The goal here is to have the firmness of your handshake be reciprocal. You want to match the other person. You never want to over-squeeze someone's hand or under-squeeze it. You want to match their level of firmness. This is also a nice way of showing someone else you're respecting their preferences. Special note here, always start with some level of firmness right up front.
Don't keep your hand limp at the beginning of a handshake. That's the dreaded dead fish handshake. Number five, dry. This one should go without saying, but, just in case, I want to mention dryness. No one likes a wet or slimy handshake. Be sure you dry your hands fully after washing your hands in the bathroom, and never hold a sweaty drink. Here's an insider tip if you get sweaty palms. I always hold a drink, mug, or coffee cup with a napkin wrapped around it.
This way, if you get sweaty palms, the napkin soaks up any moisture before you shake someone's hand. In the next few days, get some feedback on your handshake from a close friend or confidante. You want to make sure you and your handshake come across with confidence.
- Cite some shortcuts to a great first impression.
- Define a thin-slice.
- Summarize what people who meet you for the first time are trying to determine.
- Explain the importance of the perfect handshake.
- Recall the characteristics of an excellent opening line.
- Describe ways to become a better conversationalist.