Let's Shake On It

The handshake: a basic and fundamental part of everyday life and business in most parts of the world, and one that is so ingrained into our psyche that we can’t help but respond when someone holds their hand out to be shaken.

However, for all the universality of the handshake, and for all the protocols that we have embedded in ourselves we still have no way of combatting the negative impression given by a 'poor' handshake; whether that be a 'wet fish', a 'macho squeezer' or a handshake that just lingers a little too long for comfort.

Further, how do you define what your own handshake says to others? Are you guilty of having a handshake that plants negative seeds in the minds of your clients or colleagues?

In the world of personal development we tend to talk quite a bit about rapport and engagement, and for me the handshake is an essential and valuable tool in achieving that bond of rapport quickly and thoroughly.

I believe that the handshake you proffer should be reactive rather than proactive; even when you initiate the exchange by holding your hand out to be taken, you should take a fraction of a second to evaluate the kind of handshake you are being given, and match it as closely as possible.

As I write this, it seems self-evident that this is what people do, but in fact we have all been party to the discomfort (physical or mental) of being on the receiving end of a 'bad' handshake, so evidently it's not as self- evident as I thought.

Try it for yourself. The next time you are in a situation in which a handshake is warranted try to hold off for the tiny moment or two you need to assess the other party's style of handshake, and even if it's not your normal type of grip or movement, reflect what's being given rather than taking a lead and doing what you always do.

The smallest exchanges can create the greatest of results, and that initial handshake could very easily be the difference between success and failure. 

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