Many secret societies and fraternities employ secret handshakes that convey membership in a special club. When it comes to career advancement, it’s no secret that first impressions count, and that a handshake is a major component of that first impression.
In Western culture, there are two appropriate times to shake another person’s hand: when introducing yourself to someone or saying hello, and when saying goodbye. So it’s really about first and last impressions.
When shaking a person’s hand, also look them in the eye at the same time, and of course, smile. While you don’t want to be aggressive or grab onto somebody for dear life, you do want to be the first to extend a hand. It is a gesture of warmth and connection, and tends to make a strong and lasting impression.
There is actually an art to a handshake, and plenty of ways to sabotage your career by getting it wrong. We’ve all probably come across the bone crushers, who try to mince every bone in your hand. And then there is the limpy fish and the power pumper.
You definitely don’t want to be remembered as the sweaty palm. If this tends to be an issue for you, always carry and use a handkerchief or tissue, and wash and dry your hands well before entering a meeting. For severe cases, you can use antiperspirant on your hands, or experiment with natural remedies.
If you’re on the receiving end of a bone crusher, sweaty palm or the like, never grimace or make a comment. Just be polite, patient and kind.
Whose hand are you shaking?
Be sensitive to your audience. If you’re shaking hands with an older person, you’ll tend to want to relax the shake. As well, be sensitive to cultural diversities. For example, in China people prefer a lighter handshake, but it typically lasts longer than a Western one.
A good handshake shows a confident attitude, so stand up tall, reach out your hand, and be memorable!