Did you know that an MIT Neuroscience study showed that the simple act of offering a handshake made a more positive impression between strangers? The study showed that not only did the offer to shake hands make a positive initial impact, but that a positive experience of the handshake caused people to dismiss minor social miscues and retain a positive impression of that hand-shaker over time.
A handshake for business is a powerful tool. Make it work for you!
Initiate. This study showed that simply offering a handshake, even if it was never completed, left a positive first impression. Don’t be shy, or afraid to offer a hand. Practice with friends and family to gain experience and confidence. This can be a great discussion topic and avenue for practice at a networking event!
Mirror. One of the best ways you can be sure of meeting someone’s expectations during a handshake is to mirror their body language during the gesture. This can even work for a handshake “gone wrong”. Prime Minister Trudeau exhibited the art of meeting and controlling an aggressive handshake from President Trump, and it caught the media’s attention. Rather than endure a grasp-and-tug, the Prime Minister braced himself by grasping the President’s upper arm.One of the best ways to meet someone’s expectations during a handshake is to mirror their body language during the gesture Click To Tweet
Pressure. A firm but gentle handshake for business is standard, but just as in your stance, be prepared to adjust and mirror the other person’s pressure. Don’t assume that women and the elderly will always have a light grip, but be prepared to ease your pressure if they do. Some people use handshakes as a way to assert dominance, but I strongly discourage this. Meet pressure with pressure, but trying to “win” a handshake will ultimately leave a negative impression.
Vertical hands, vertical shake. The handshake that makes the best impression is one that is a simple, warm greeting. Keeping your hand vertical and giving a few brief vertical shakes is all that’s required to make that positive impression. Offering your hand facing up or down can be confusing or awkward if unexpected, and it’s best to go with a straightforward grip-and-shake between equals.
These techniques for a simple, welcoming gesture of greeting are great for North America. There are variations that are needed abroad, so if you are taking your handshake international, brush up on the business etiquette where you’re going.