Go for the thumb
Keep your hand open and make sure your handshake will be a hand shake, not a finger or palm shake. This means getting the joint of your thumb nestled into the joint of their thumb. The lower joint, the tissue between your thumb to your forefinger. This allows you to truly have a full handshake.
Firm, not strong
A good handshake is firm but not overpowering. It isn’t the precursor to a wrestling match, and it doesn’t feel like a dead fish. Do you wanted to be handed or greeted with a dead fish? I doubt it! Always make your grip firm, but make adjustments based on the firmness of the other person’s grip.
Up and down, not back and forth
A good handshake has a nice up and down motion, not a back and forth one. As if you were jointly trying to saw some wood. Again, adjust the motion to what seems natural and comfortable to the other person.
Some people prefer a long handshake, others prefer them much shorter. Observe the other person and adjust the duration to the situation, how well you know the person, and what seems comfortable to them.
Consider your left hand
While it may not be appropriate in some cultures, I often use my other hand to grasp the other side of the person’s hand or to touch their arm. This gesture makes the handshake warmer and more personal. When I am trying to convey those feelings I include my left hand as well. You might consider doing that too.
Close with eye contact and a smile
If the smile and eye contact hasn’t continued throughout the handshake, finish it out that way.
After re-reading and thinking about these several times, I realized that the deeper key to handshakes (as with many things in life) is intention.
Keep your focus on the other person, and you will naturally do many of the things on the list. You will make the handshake a natural part of your connection process. Make an eye contact. You will smile and connect. Naturally adjust your grip and focus on the other person.
As a leader or a person responsible for interacting with Customers in any way, the value of this skill is obvious. The fact is though that having a great handshake is a life skill we should all cultivate. It matters to us in creating first impressions and in building relationships.
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