I’m in law school right now and as a future attorney, I’ll be shaking lots of hands: clients, potential clients, other attorneys, and judges. During that brief contact with that person, they’re going to form opinions of me. My handshake could give them the impression that I’m warm person or cold and aloof.
Maybe my handshake indicates that I’m an overbearing jerk or a wimpy McWimpsalot. We want a handshake that creates a favorable impression. We’re going to talk about how to do that.
There are three keys to a successful handshake
- How you do it
- When you do it
- Where you do it
How you do it
- Make sure your handshake is firm, not a dead fish grip. However, you don’t want to crush the other person’s hand.
- Make sure you don’t have food or grease on your hands. You want the person to remember you, not what you ate.
- If your hands are sweaty, give them a quick nonchalant wipe on your pants.
- When you offer your hand, look the person in the eye and smile.
When you do it
Handshakes involve timing. Many people avoid offering handshakes because they’re afraid of being left hanging. If you’re not sure if someone will notice your offer, extend the handshake anyways. Most of the time people will notice your handshake offer and quickly grasp your hand.
Be aware of different social customs. Most cultures have different customs for shaking hands. Some find it inappropriate for a man to shake a woman’s hand and some cultures find shaking hands completely unacceptable. Be sensitive to these situations.
What if you’re left hanging?
I hate when this happens. I always feel dumb, especially when everyone but the person with whom you were trying to shake hands saw the rejection. Don’t feel embarrassed. The problem isn’t that the other person doesn’t think you’re important, you’re timing was just off.
- Don’t offer a handshake if the other person is engrossed in conversation with someone else.
- Don’t approach someone from the side with your extended hand. It’s hard to see.
- Do audibly greet the person first to get their attention and then offer your hand.
Where to do it
Handshakes are good every where. Make sure to shake plenty of hands when you go to a social gathering. Make sure to shake the hosts’ hand when arriving and leaving the gathering.