Integrated Human Capital

What your Handshake says about you…

June 30, 2016

Let’s face it, most of us have had some awkward handshake moment at some point in our lives.  Do I reach over and initiate first?  Are my palms too sweaty?  How much pressure should I apply? So many details can make or break a good handshake and the truth is a bad handshake is hard to forget.

Research shows that body language is one of the most important parts of communication.  Whether we realize it or not, often times we react to non-verbal signs more than the actual words the person spoke and a handshake reveals aspects of your personality.  So when you shake a person’s hand, what type of impression are you sending?

Here are 4 Tips to help you understand what your handshake says about you:

Being the first to extend your hand. 

This creates a strong, lasting impression and shows your confidence in an interview. The only time you might want to wait half a second before you offer your hand, is when it is a person of high authority but if they do not immediately shake your hand then it’s okay to extend yours.

Standing up and looking the person in the eye.

Sitting down to shake someone’s hand can be seen as a lack of respect or laziness.  Regardless if you are male or female, if you are sitting, rise before extending your hand. This shows confidence and puts you on the same level as the other person. Make eye contact and maintain eye contact throughout the entire handshake. Offer a sincere smile to show that you are happy to be where you are and always give yourself a moment to be still and don’t look rushed to sit down again.  Eye contact is a key component of non-verbal communication and looking away can be interpreted as having something to hide.

Applying pressure.

You might have heard that a firm handshake is important when making a first impression and it is, but there is etiquette in the amount of firmness.  Finger breaking handshakes can actually be seen as a sign of weakness and if we naturally respond to non-verbal signs then we need to promote a positive interaction.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there is the “limp” handshake.  This is where you apply very little to no pressure and unfortunately this can have a long lasting negative impression.  Majority of the time the reason for a weak handshake is purely shyness or anxiety but the person on the other end might interpreted as a lack of confidence.  The only time it might be appropriate to lighten up your handshake is when you are meeting someone under unfortunate circumstances (ill family member or funeral).

The Shake

Majority of individuals prefer a shorter handshake.  Try to keep it within 2-4 seconds and then slowly release your hand.  Keep your left hand visible, unclenched and out of your pocket.   Lastly, keep the handshake pump to a minimum.

Handshake Fun Fact:  The handshake is thought by some to have originated in the late 16thCentury as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the hand holds no weapon.

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