Importance of a Strong Handshake in the Workplace

by William McCoy, Demand Media
    A strong handshake conveys a professional, confident attitude.

    A strong handshake conveys a professional, confident attitude.

    You've got the right outfit and documents for your big presentation, but you meet a would-be client with a weak, sweaty handshake that instantly creates an awkward moment. Suddenly, you're so busy thinking about the poor first impression that you stumble through your presentation. If this nightmare scenario sounds familiar, perhaps you need a little help on presenting a strong handshake in the workplace.

    Handshake Technique

    To shake someone's hand correctly, etiquette training organization Etiquette International advises extending your right hand with the fingers slightly open and your thumb facing upward. Upon making contact with the other person's hand, squeeze it firmly for roughly three seconds, pump once or twice if desired, and then release it. During the handshake, maintain eye contact with the other person. The Protocol Centre, another etiquette training organization, suggests pressing your hand into the other person's until the web between your thumb and forefingers touch. This technique avoids a weak, superficial handshake.

    Benefits

    Having a strong handshake is vitally important in the business world because it's the only common bodily contact, says image consultant and author Jill Bremer. She reports that people make instant judgments about your confidence and character because of your handshake. A strong handshake conveys such attributes as mature and confident, while a weak handshake indicates that you're immature, nervous and shy. University of Iowa professor Greg Stewart says your handshake is a unique way to stand out from your peers.

    Tips

    No one enjoys shaking hands with someone who has a cold, wet palm, so consider the condition of your right hand in anticipation of your handshake. If it's sweaty, wipe it off on the side of your clothing discreetly. Recruiting firm The Jennifer Group recommends rubbing liquid baby powder on your palm before shaking hands, while Etiquette International suggests spraying antiperspirant on your palm if it's clammy. Of course, take these measures well in advance of needing to shake hands.

    For Women

    Traditionally, men were taught to wait until a woman extends her hand before offering their hand, but this method is extinct, reports CareerBuilder.com. Don't be put off if a male you meet in the workplace extends his hand first, but don't be shy to extend yours, either. Because many men still adhere to the "women first" mentality, consider initiating the handshake quickly to avoid an awkward exchange.

    About the Author

    Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as health, nutrition and sports. He has spent much of his career in community news, including at "Nepean This Week" newspaper, and has written for "Canadian Sports Collector" magazine. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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