Todays post is on "the perfect handshake" as it applies to American culture. Three key factors that will set you apart and make for stronger first impressions. You might be asking, "who the hell is he to be giving advice on well blended hand-shakes?" And it's true, I have no academic background in business, psychology, or human behavior. So I don't expect you to take my word for it; but at the very least, I hope to inspire close attention when it comes to our sacred ritual.
For the sake of brevity, I'll give you my top three tips:
- EYE CONTACT. By far the most overlooked aspect of the perfect handshake. Looking down or away sends negative signals that make for an 'off' impression. Eye contact will signify confidence, warmth, sincerity, and trust. And remember, a warm smile goes a long way.
- FIRMNESS. This is very difficult to define, because it hugely depends on whos hand you're shaking. But the rule of thumb is a firm grasp, connecting at the web between the forefinger and thumb, and hold for a length of 2-3 seconds. And for the love of god, please refrain from the "dead fish" or "bone crusher". I trust you know what I'm talking about.
- A STEP CLOSER. Many people are leaving large gaps between one another when shaking hands. If you're bending at the waste, you're too far apart. Try stepping in close enough so your back remains straight. There's a fine balance here because you don't want to step into their personal space, but you also need to show openness and trust. By leaning forward, your showing lack of trust and timidness. Remember to stand up straight and you'll naturally take a step in. The idea is to stay authoritative, comfortable, and open.
There's so much more that goes into "the perfect handshake", and a lot of it is circumstantial. So I'd like to leave you with one last tip that should cover your bases.
*FOCUS ON INTENT. Try to have an air of trustworthiness, confidence, warmth, and kindness. Be authoritative but not brash, take charge but don't push. With those intents in mind, you'll be well on your way to a perfect handshake that's personally tailored to you. Put-er-there.