| April 30, 2016

Etiquette, Relationships & Family, Social Skills

The Complete Guide to Giving a Great Handshake

vintage businessmen shaking hands smiling making deal

Whether you’re first meeting someone or greeting them for the hundredth time, a good handshake is important. A strong shake conveys confidence, strength, warmth, honesty, and a host of other good character traits. The fact that well-executed handshakes create a positive first impression isn’t just anecdotally true, either, but has even been born out by several research studies.

So if you want to learn how to impress compadres and strangers alike, we offer this complete multi-media guide to giving a great handshake.

How to Give a Great Handshake: An AoM Instructional Film

The Full-Text Instructions

Giving a successful and confident handshake boil down to these 3 keys:

  1. How you do it
  2. When you do it
  3. Where you do it

1. How

  • Make sure your handshake is firm and not a dead fish grip. However, you don’t want to crush the other person’s hand with a death grip.
  • Go for the “web touch.” You want the webbing between your thumb and index finger to meet the same spot on 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.

2. When

A good handshake requires good timing. At a party or social event, make sure to shake the host’s hand when arriving and leaving. Shake hands with anyone you’re meeting for the first time, as well friends, family, and acquaintances with whom you don’t feel close enough for hugging to seem appropriate.

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 your hand anyways. Most of the time people will notice your handshake offer and quickly grasp your hand.

So what if you are left hanging?

I hate when this happens, 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, but simply that you’re timing was off. Remember the following tips:

  • 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.
  • Audibly greet the person to get their attention and then offer your hand.

Also be aware of varying social norms. Most cultures have different customs for when and if to shake hands. In our culture, for example, you typically want to wait to see if a woman offers her hand first, instead of initiating the shake yourself. In other cultures, shaking hands with a woman is never appropriate. Be aware of these and other cultural differences, especially when you travel.

3. Where

Handshakes are good everywhere! Make sure to shake plenty of hands when you go to any social gathering, religious function (again, being sensitive to varying customs), family reunion, wedding, etc. Be liberal with your handshakes, and you’ll perfect the art in no time.

Your 60-Second Illustrated Crib Sheet

Handshake 3

Last updated: May 2, 2016

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