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The Fine Art of the Handshake

Hanshake

The Wind River brand slogan, “After the Handshake,” focuses on all the industry-leading service promises that merchants enjoy for the life of our relationship. In other words, it centers on the “after.”

Recently, an article on Salesdog refocused my attention on the actual handshake.

Many of us take for granted the physical act of “the handshake” and don’t really understand the art of a handshake. It made me think back on my first days in the business world of being taught the proper way to shake hands. Since that time I have had the opportunity to teach our two sons at an early age the importance of a handshake.
I found this to be a nice refresher and hope you will find this to be a helpful reminder and tool in teaching others.
Your handshake says a lot about you. It can convey confidence, warmth, and honesty, or it can signal weakness, uncertainty, and disinterest. Either way, it sends a subtle yet powerful message about who you are. Use these pointers to make sure your handshake sends the right signals, and creates a good impression.

Avoid the power grip. A handshake should be firm, but not overly forceful. Beware of the unconscious tendency to pull the other person toward you as you shake. This can be interpreted as aggressive, and the person’s resistance to you will go up a notch or two.

Nothing wimpy. It may seem painfully obvious, but it’s amazing how many people offer weak, perfunctory handshakes. This is a major turnoff to many people. Firm and friendly always wins the day.

Look ’em in the eye. As you extend your hand, establish eye contact and smile. Show some teeth! A warm and sincere greeting can make you an instant friend.

Get a grip. Never grasp the other person’s fingers. Take their entire hand completely in yours, and gently pump it two or three times.

Turn on the charm. You’ve been talking with a person on the phone for several months, and meet them in person for the first time at a local event. To express your pleasure at finally meeting face to face, you may want to cover their extended hand with your left hand briefly during the handshake. This increases the familiarity and warmth of the handshake. Do not attempt this with someone you don’t know. However, it is often a pleasant gesture when you are shaking hands with someone you’ve met previously. It simply says, “I’m very glad to see you again.”

What to say? No handshake is complete without a spoken greeting. You can’t go wrong with, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” When meeting someone of high rank or importance to you, you may want to up the ante with, “It’s a great pleasure to meet you.” After the initial greeting, your conversation should begin while you are still shaking hands, for example, “John tells me you’ve made some significant additions to the community.” Your hand should be slowly and somewhat reluctantly withdrawn as the person begins to speak. This slow withdrawal indicates your keen interest in the person and what he is saying.

What’s your body language saying? Posture is important, so stand erect, about three feet (one pace) away from the client, with your hands out of your pockets. Face the person squarely; never approach from an angle, or when the subject is engaged in conversation or otherwise distracted. Wait until you have his full attention before extending your hand.

Saying goodbye. When the meeting is over, it’s time to shake hands again. You now have the opportunity to leave a lasting impression. If you’ve established rapport with the person, it’s a good idea to gently grasp their right forearm with your left hand during the handshake, and restate any promises you may have made during the meeting, for example, “I’ll give you a call next Wednesday. I enjoyed meeting you.” This two-handed shake signals your interest and commitment to this person.

Practice makes perfect. Much like dancing, the fine art of the handshake takes practice. Stand before a mirror and extend your hand. Check to see if you’re projecting an image of confidence, warmth, and enthusiasm. Keep in mind that your handshake reflects your personality, and should be a spontaneous gesture of friendly greeting that comes naturally from within. With a little rehearsal, you will develop the ability to tailor your handshake to every situation you face, and each individual you meet.

Your handshake is a powerful personal and business asset. The time you spend working on it will be time well spent.

If you enjoy some humor take a look at how some folks react when a handshake goes awry. It is from Jimmy Kimmel’s recent salute to “National Handshake Day”. Warning….keep in mind, this is Jimmy Kimmel’s sense of humor.
Have you ever had to teach someone the fine art of the handshake?

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