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The Beginner’s Guide to a Good Handshake

Ada Almaral

The Beginner’s Guide to a Good Handshake by Ada Almaral on April 4th, 2018

First impressions can be intimidating. We all aim to display a confident and affluent persona, though the execution of this is easier said than done. The most integral part of a positive first impression is a polished handshake, which is the traditional greeting for many cultures during this day and age.

The importance of shaking hands is due to the multiple senses that are included in this simple action. The handshake is a brief exchange that allows individuals to establish a baseline for how they perceive one another. This is risky because, if done incorrectly, it can potentially establish negative feelings. It is worth remembering that the appropriate type of handshake depends on the culture where it is performed. For example: Those in the Middle East value a softer clasp, whereas individuals in North America place an emphasis on stronger and lengthier handshakes.

Though handshakes can vary across North America, there is a standard that many follow. A classic handshake consists of clasping another’s hand (ensuring equal pressure), and “pumping” up and down 2 or 3 times. It also important to note that one should attempt to mirror the other person to the best of their ability – both in strength and duration of the handshake.

The above is a simple outline however, as an accomplished handshake does take practice. Here are a few tips to remember next time you encounter an outstretched hand:

1. Maintain eye contact

Meeting the eyes of the person you are shaking hands with is critical. Eye contact indicates that the other person is the focus of your attention, and any diversion of the gaze can be viewed as disrespectful.

2. Don’t focus on dominance

As mentioned previously, it is important to mirror the handshake of the other person. Many people believe that placing your hand on top and maintaining a strong grasp is an essential component of portraying yourself as successful. This is completely false, and can potentially leave a negative impression on the person you are interacting with.

3. Maintain a positive demeanour and friendly face

Even if the other individual has sweaty or possibly limp hands, it is imperative that you keep an attentive and cordial face during the greeting. Shaking hands is usually the first step in establishing a relationship, and a poor or aggressive handshake can possibly sour the connection.

4. Don’t be nervous!

No one is born knowing the secrets to a perfect handshake. We all start somewhere, and there are many opportunities to practice.


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