Something we do often, then forget about it
It’s something most of us do often. We shake hands. We shake hands with long-time friends, with old acquaintances and with brand-new people. Shaking hands here and shaking hands there.
I took a class in college where they taught us how to shake hands. I remember thinking at the time, maybe more than 20 years ago. That everyone should know how shakes hands effectively.
Then, as I reflected, I realized that I had shaken more than a few hands that needed those lessons. I thought then, and agree now that a friend taught me the basics and importance of good handshakes.
The first impression
In much of the world, the handshake is a part of the first impression that we make. People think about first impressions from a grooming and dress standpoint.
In business situations they practice what they might say. They often read books to learn what kinds of questions to ask to remain authentic and create a positive first impression.
And while all of that is important, it is the handshake, often overlooked and forgotten. That is the first physical information others receive about us at the early part of a relationship.
In other words, handshakes matter.
And a strong one can make a big difference.
An American colleague who has now been living and teaching in Japan for some time must agree. She emailed me and part of the email reads:
” Next week is the beginning of the school year – and I really want to get my new students off to the best possible start. Would you be willing to share your thoughts on how to give a really great handshake? I have been away from the U.S. for so long, and have few opportunities to practice (though my bowing has gotten really good :)) “
Here are the secrets to great handshakes, assembled to respond to her earnest request
Start with eye contact and a smile
A great handshake isn’t just about a physical gesture, it is about connecting with the other person. It is a physical greeting and you want to convey your pleasure in greeting the other person. The best way to do that is with your face and your eyes.