There’s nothing more annoying than someone with a limp handshake, except perhaps someone who has a limp and sweaty handshake. Historically, the Romans used the handshake as a greeting over 2000 years ago. The ritual was regarded as a sign of friendship, because the right hand was considered to be the weapon hand. Shaking hands meant there was no weapon.
Today, shaking hands is still the most common social practice for introducing oneself to others, especially in a business setting. You don’t see many grey-suited businessmen giving each other a “high-five” or a “bro-hug,” before a meeting. Speaking of which, the latest trend seems to be the “fist bump.” I don’t know where this started; maybe it’s a result of an increase in germaphobia. Being somewhat of a germaphobe, myself, I’m often reluctant to shake hands these days, but I don’t want to appear rude. Why? Check this out: A June, 2013 LiveScience.com article reported on a Michigan State hygiene study that revealed the following:
“After using the bathroom, 95% of people fail to wash their hands long enough to kill harmful bacteria. . .only two-in-three people use soap, while one -in-10 skips the sink altogether, and men get much lower marks for hand hygiene than women.”
YECH! Keep some hand sanitizer nearby, just in case.
So, let’s turn to “the art” of the handshake, and why it’s important to master. For one, you’re less likely to get hired if you have a weak handshake. Whether you’re job hunting, meeting a client, or a new friend, your handshake should convey interest, strength and sincerity. An article from valetmag.com breaks a proper handshake down to five components:
1. The Pitch
Good timing is key. Your body language should signal to the other person that a handshake is coming by swinging your right hand up from your hip, and your palm turned just slightly downward.
2. Eye Contact
Don’t look for or at the other person’s hand. Always maintain eye contact.
3. Make it Firm
A weak handshake makes a bad first impression, even with women. Grip the person’s hand firmly, but don’t squeeze it.
4. Avoid “Premature Evacuation”
In other words, don’t let go immediately. If it’s someone you know, bring the shake toward you and the other person will naturally lean in.
5. The Release
Three seconds is sufficient for a good handshake. Some people make the mistake of holding on until they’ve finished whatever it is they wanted to say.