Professional business people know how important a good first impression can be. Some people believe that the handshake is everything and want to them to be perfect during interactions, but more may not realize that the handshake is not just about you. The way someone shakes your hand can speak volumes about them too. Here are five tips to improve your professional handshake.
The original version of the Goldilocks Principle is attributed to Saito, who said that the size of a computer's memory should be " juu da ageru " ("just right"), neither too small nor too large. This was translated in early English language reports as "the optimum memory size is one that is 'just right'".
The phrase has since been generalized to suggest that other things may also have an optimum: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It has been applied to situations as diverse as our topic: handshakes. A proper Handshake should be firm, but not bone-crushing. Like Goldilocks' porridge, a handshake should be "just right." If it's too soft, it conveys a lack of confidence and it creates an awkward moment. If it's too hard, it can create discomfort for both parties and leave an impression of aggressiveness or bravado.
Eye contact during a handshake is critical to your first impression, especially in the beginning. It is not only proper etiquette but also shows confidence, sincerity, and trustworthiness. It is the basis of the very first step of the "secret handshake" of the Masons, Shriners, Elks, and other fraternal organizations. Tailor your eye contact to the situation. If you are meeting someone for the first time and they extend their hand to you, look into their eyes as you shake hands with them. This is especially important if you have never met this person before or are in a situation where you do not know many people.
If eye contact is broken for just an instant it doesn't mean that person does not respect or trust you. It might be an accident or something such as a change in lighting. However, if it happens again then maybe it indicates something else. Also, consider that some people have difficulty making eye contact with others. This is because they might be shy, timid, or nervous and having any type of conversation makes them uncomfortable. Some people are always busy looking at their computer or cell phone and don't make eye contact with anyone because they are usually looking down so they can read what someone has written to them on their cell phone screen.
Have an Opener Ready
Some people wonder whether it is important to have a specific opener ready if you are going to shake hands. If you want the other person to feel good about you and your meeting, then yes, thinking of a good opener before shaking hands is very important. It helps to get the other person in a positive frame of mind. People tend not to remember how you open, but they do remember how you close. So ask yourself what your intention for this meeting is and think of an appropriate opener that will help achieve that intention.
Also, if you are in a meeting with someone who is more senior than you are or where there are multiple people from both sides, then it is wise to rehearse your opening ahead of time so that when you do shake hands you don't look like a deer in headlights. If you are going to be in front of many people at a formal event like an annual general meeting or a client presentation or delivering any kind of speech, then it makes sense to practice what you will say when shaking hands with the other person or persons before the event so that you don't freeze up when shaking hands on the day.
Be Ready for Unconventional Moves
Before entering a hand-to-hand combat, you should be aware of what the adversary can do to hurt you. Being aware of your opponent's capabilities is not enough, though: you have to know how to defend against those attacks before they happen. One thing that should give you the chills is when an adversary gets aggressive or performs unconventional moves during the handshake process. The reason is simple: it shows that he or she is ready to do something that they are not supposed to do. It shows that they are ready and willing to go beyond what they are supposed to do.
The most common unconventional move during a handshake is when someone tries to get a much firmer grip on your hand. This means that he or she will try to create a contact force between your palms so strong that it will not be easy for you to break the contact. It may sound subtle, but this type of firm handshake can be very intimidating because it shows that your adversary is ready for physical interactions - more than what you expect from a typical greeting. In case you feel uncomfortable with this kind of a greeting, there are only two ways out: break free from the handshake, or accept it and adjust your strategy according to this new information about your adversary.
We’ve all been there: you’re in a new place, at an important business meeting, and a colleague reaches out an arm to shake your hand. How do you respond? Giving the perfect handshake is not only crucial for first impressions, it can define the entire outcome of your meeting, from whether you are seen as a confident professional or an awkward outsider.