Get Things Off to a Good Start With the Right Handshake

Professionalism in business is nothing but acquiring and practicing good manners.

Studies have shown that your impression and the impression of your business are made in the first 5 seconds.  Fair?  Maybe not but don’t worry, there are rules on business etiquette that will help through that first impression.  So we will start with the traditional handshake. A proper handshake can be an asset to your business.  The “web” between your thumb and index finger should meet the other person’s. As you shake hands, smile and have eye contact.

Problematic handshakes, such as a limp handshake, maybe interpreted as weakness or indecisiveness. You want to have a firm grip during a handshake, but too firm grip during a handshake, may indicate aggressiveness.   A special note for women to make her hand seem larger when shaking hands with a male, she should extend her hand with the index finger separated slightly from her middle finger. The space is not perceived only the width.

Always shake the most important person’s hand first. In every instance, the most important person is the client.  Then, the importance is determined by rank in the company (president, vice president, etc.) remembering that in business gender and age are irrelevant.  It only takes one hand to make a proper handshake. A two-handed  handshake or handshake with an elbow grab are to show sympathy and are reserved for funerals only.

Worldwide, the left hand is known as our dirty hand.  This is the hand that we should use for covering our coughs and sneezes.  Therefore, handshaking is only done with our right hand.   When networking opportunities arise, we should be conscience of holding our drinks in our left hand so we will never offer a cold wet hand to a client. Briefcases and other items should also be held with our left hand so we will not have to fumble around if someone offers their hand to you.

A few other things to remember, always stand when approached for a handshake this shows respect and gratitude.  Finally, avoid shaking hands across a table or any other impediment. 

Now that you know the proper etiquette of handshaking, try to be the first one to extend your hand when the situation arises. This will show confidence and you can be sure that you will leave a great and memorable impression.