By Stacey Hanke / Guest Column
Have you ever wondered what your handshake says about you? Your handshake is like your business card. It conveys your confidence, credibility and influence without sharing a single word. Studies have shown this one simple gesture can enhance a social situation and make a positive impact on others.
In our culture, a handshake accompanies almost every introduction and initiates many conversations. It sets the tone for new relationships by signaling others of your integrity. People often admit to judging others based on this small gesture. Because of this, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology encourages everyone to pay attention to their handshake, as it has found significant consistencies in a firm handshake and a positive first impression.
Make a great first impression by considering your handshake and what it says about you, and avoid these seven types of handshakes that will hurt your influence with others:
Dead Fish: Also known as the “limp noodle,” this handshake conveys weakness and uncertainty. It gives people the impression you have a passive personality and can be easily overrun. Don’t use this handshake even when tempted to be gentle with a person due to age or gender.
Hand Crusher: Want someone to forget your name immediately? Squeeze their hand with constant force. They’ll be so distracted from the pain they’ll tune out anything you say. This type of handshake also diminishes the trust others are willing to place in you. It sends the message you’re trying too hard, and people will likely question what you say after that.
Long Lingerer: Few things can make a handshake recipient more uncomfortable than someone who won’t let go of their hand. Handshakes should be no more than two seconds in length. Anything longer begins to cross personal boundaries and feels like an invasion of space.
Hip Hipster: Fist bumps and fancy handshakes have their place, but not in the workplace. They reflect a lack of awareness and a need to be revered as cool, not credible.
Brush Off: A handshake is intended to kick-start a meaningful connection. When shaking someone’s hand, be deliberate with your eye contact and don’t rush the exchange. Nothing makes someone feel like they’re unimportant or being blown off quite like shaking hands with a person in a rush or looking around at others.
Wet Weasel: It’s natural to get nervous and have anxiety before big meetings or introductions. What isn’t natural, however, is the feeling of contacting someone’s sweaty palms. If you know you are likely to have wet palms before an introduction, consider carrying a handkerchief in your pocket to use just before meeting. You can also wash your hands with cold water to help keep them cool under pressure.
Hand Hugger: We’ve all shaken hands with someone who uses both of theirs to embrace our hands. While this is perfectly normal in a personal situation with friends and family, it’s out of place in a professional setting. You can convey a message of warmth with your eyes, smile and choice of words. There is no need to embrace someone’s hand in such a personal manner.
When it comes to perfecting the handshake, begin by seeking feedback on yours. Ask someone you trust to help identify areas for improvement. Then, practice it on others to solicit feedback and more guidance until you’ve mastered the art.
You want to be so confident in your handshake style that it is second nature. Seeking feedback and frequent practice will help solidify your good habits, so you can concentrate more on meeting the person and less on the impression you’re making. The more comfortable you become, the confidence you’ll convey.
Stacey Hanke is a communication expert and the founder of Stacey Hanke Inc., a consultancy serving the leaders of Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola, Nationwide and FedEx. Learn more at staceyhankeinc.com.