Monday, November 17, 2014

Handshaking 101

by Jenny Tracy

No matter who you are or what your occupation, knowing how to give a ‘proper’ handshake is essential. Not only are handshakes an important part of the ever-so-important first impressions, handshakes accompany many parts of your daily routine: networking and introducing yourself to new individuals, saying hello or goodbye to business associates, and greeting customers of your business are just a few examples of occasions that you should generally shake hands.

The proper handshake etiquette:

  • Initiating the Handshake: The handshake should be initiated by the person in a position of higher authority or age.
  • Eye Contact: Whether you are the person to initiate the handshake or the person on the receiving end, make eye contact before extending your hand, and, if sitting, stand up before shaking hands, unless doing so is inappropriate for the situation.
  • Expressing a Greeting: You should express a greeting before and during the handshake. If you are shaking hands after an initial introduction with someone, the greeting before the handshake should be you introducing yourself to them, while the greeting during the handshake, “It’s nice to meet you (insert name),” would be suggested and is appropriate. 
  • Extending your Hand: When extending your hand, your fingers should be straight, together, and pointed toward the person you will be shaking hands with, your thumb should be pointed up, and your arm should be almost, but not quite, straight.
  • The Web: Now for the important part, don’t begin to close your hand until the web between your thumb and pointer finger connects with the web of the other person’s hand.
  • Neutral Grip: Grip their hand with the same amount of force as you would use for gripping a door knob when opening a door; this ensures that your handshake will not be perceived as weak or limp nor will it be remembered as bone-crushing.
  • Pump from the Elbow: Now that you have engaged in the handshake, you should pump up and down, not side-to-side or back-and-forth, two to three times, pumping from your elbow.
  • Two-handed Handshakes: Avoid the urge to clasp the other side of their hand with your left hand during the handshake, especially in a business setting; it is seen as too personal and overbearing in most cases.
Take a few minutes to brush up on this often-overlooked business skill, so next time you extend your hand for a handshake you can do so confidently, knowing that you have followed proper handshake etiquette. That way, you don't run in to this scenario:

Have you had any awkward handshakes recently? Were you the reason it went bad? We'd love to hear about it.


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