Following the pandemic, it might feel like the age of handshakes is over – but the chances are we will go back to using this greeting technique at some point.
Whether it’s in business meetings or interviews, the handshake is one of the most professional and well-known forms of greeting someone – even if it is accompanied by a lot of sanitizer these days.
Unfortunately, many people have no idea how to make a positive impact with a handshake. We get ourselves stressed out about things like how long to shake for, how firm the grip should be, and even whether our hands are too sweaty beforehand.
If you’re stressed out about the potential re-emergence of handshakes into your everyday life, don’t panic.
Here are some tips on making a good impression with a handshake:
- Know when to start the shake. This first tip is a little insight into handshake etiquette. Typically, the person with a higher position of authority, or the older person in the meeting should be the person to extend a hand to shake.
– If, for instance, you’re interviewing for a job, it’s a good idea to wait for the interviewer to reach out and take the lead. However, this isn’t always a necessity.
– Some people will appreciate a person with the confidence to reach out and offer a handshake. It can seem polite and friendly, even if you’re not the authority in the room. In situations where you’re in a very traditional business setting, it’s probably best to wait to be offered a hand, though.
- Stand up and make eye contact. If you’re sitting and someone walks into the room to meet you, stand up before they even extend their hand for a shake – it’s good manners, and it shows you’re ready for a handshake.
– If someone extends a hand to you while you’re sitting, you should still stand up – it’s a sign of respect.
– When shaking hands with someone else, look them in the eye to show them they have your full attention and give them a smile.
– Try not to look as though you’re desperate to leave the situation by pulling your hand back too quickly or turning away from the other person.
- Be firm, but don’t be crushing. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a crushing handshake is better than a weak one. Trying too hard to exert force during a handshake can set a negative tone for the rest of the meeting.
– Your handshake should be firm, to show you’re invested in the greeting, but keep it light enough that it’s not going to be uncomfortable.
– A good tip if another person gives you a slightly limp handshake is to give them a little squeeze. This will let them know to tighten their grip a little.
- Give it time. As tempting as it might be to get a handshake over and done with as quickly as possible, particularly in these cautious times, most shakes should last between 3-5 seconds. The majority of people will prefer a shorter handshake, so if someone starts to loosen their grip follow their lead.
– Letting go of someone’s hand too quickly can make it look like you’re desperate to get away from them, or that you find them distasteful. If the other person continues holding your hand for longer than you think is reasonable, smile, and withdraw your hand gently.
- Be aware of the rest of your body. Sometimes, people get so caught up worrying about the impression they’re making with their handshake that they forget to think about the rest of their body.
– Think about what’s going on with your stance and your other hand when you’re shaking. The other hand should generally be visible and in a loose position by your side. Having a hand in your pocket looks defensive.
– You can even use your other hand to touch the other person’s arm in an intimate setting – but this is less common in a business environment.
– Remember to stand up straight, maintain eye contact, and smile to show the interaction is a positive one.
- Stick to the up-and-down motion. This might sound like an obvious last piece of advice, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget. Your shake should go up and down, not back and forth or side to side. You should only shake around three times, otherwise the greeting can start to feel a little uncomfortable.
Following a handshake, don’t be upset if someone applies hand sanitizer – this is likely to be natural these days. If someone offers a fist bump instead of a handshake, just touch your knuckles to theirs gently and give them the same welcoming smile.
Keep these tips in mind and make a positive first impression every time!