Publications & Products
Volume 3, Issue 6

Give a Great Handshake

Learning the etiquette of a proper handshake can build a manager's self-confidence and reputation, says a body language expert.

"In the span of a few seconds we lay the foundation for how others perceive and feel about us—and we about them," says Joe Navarro, author of Louder Than Words: Take Your Career from Average to Exceptional with the Hidden Power of Nonverbal Intelligence. "In an instant really, we are seeing, sensing, observing, and feeling another person. [This is] nothing to scoff at, which is why every culture has greeting rituals—opportunities to see what this person is about, what they represent, and whether they are a threat."

In a recent interview with Psychology Today, Navarro shared advice to follow when shaking hands. In all cases, he suggests matching the style and firmness of the other person.

"If you are meeting with a person who gives a very weak handshake, perhaps that is [his or her] custom," he says. "Don't grimace and don't make a face, match their handshake with equal pressure and give thanks you have an opportunity to demonstrate that you have social intelligence and good manners."

Navarro also offered these tips:

  • Make eye contact with the person and avoid distractions.
  • Dry hands before making contact, if they are clammy. He adds, "There is nothing wrong with having a handkerchief in your hand as you wait or wiping them on the back of the leg just before you shake hands."
  • Avoid the "politician's handshake"—using two hands to cover or cup the other person's hands. Navarro says, "No one likes it, it is too personal, and you have to earn the right to do it."

This article is from the Aug. 5, 2013 issue.

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