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Originally published by The Culture and Manners Institute

Once in a while you shake someone’s hand and think, “I know basset hounds that shake more affirmatively than that.”

Maybe you don’t think that. But you might think:
“This person really doesn’t want to shake my hand.”
“That handshake was limp, this person is not a decision maker.”
“This person is not interested in the job.”
“Ewww! Clammy!”

Your handshake conveys enthusiasm (or lack of) just as your voice does. Your handshake should say, “I’m confident, I’m enthusiastic and I’m darn glad to meet you.”

There’s lots of advice online about how many times to pump, or move your handshake up and down. Some say two, three. One presentation said, “Pump five-seven times.” Can you imagine shaking and thinking, “1…2…3…4… ?” The other person is thinking, “Let go! Let go!”

A business handshake is simple: your palm fits in the other person’s palm. Reach out and give a firm grasp. There’s no need to pump.

We shake hands to say, “Hello” and again to say, “Goodbye.”

If you have naturally moist or clammy hands – many people do – wipe them off or warm them up before shaking hands. When networking, keep your beverage in your left hand, so your right hand is not cold and wet from holding it.

A limp handshake gives the impression you are insecure or not a decision maker.
The opposite, the knuckle-crusher, gives the impression you are controlling or angry.

When is a lighter handshake is appropriate?

When working with people from other cultures that use a lighter handshake or with people who are frail or arthritic – in both cases, mirror the pressure they put on your hand.

In business in the U.S., reach out, give a firm grasp. To be successful at your profession, make a good first impression.

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