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Happy National Handshake Day!

What better day to kick off the blog than on National Handshake Day giving a virtual handshake to all of you!

I’m guessing most, if not all of you, have participated in a handshake at some point in your life, and let’s face it.. a poor handshake is one we all remember. Was the grip too weak, was it too strong? Was it awkward, did you miss the opportunity to shake, was it sweaty, did it linger on too long? Were YOU the one with poor handshake etiquette?!

A handshake reveals aspects of the personality of the person giving it, so let’s absolve any concerns about when and how to achieve the most suitable handshake by making sure you’re doing it right.

Know when to shake hands

At minimum, shake hands when:
• Someone introduces him, herself, or a third party to you
• You introduce yourself to someone new
• Ending a conversation or saying goodbye

The person in a higher position of authority or age should be the first one to extend a hand. If you make a mistake and initiate it, don’t withdraw your hand because that would be rude. Always follow through with a handshake. Smile and continue with the introduction.

Stand, stare, shake

If you are sitting, rise before extending your hand. This shows respect and puts you on the same level as the other person. Make eye contact and offer a sincere smile to show that you are happy to be where you are.

If your palms are damp, you can delay extending your hand if you introduce yourself while blotting your palm on the side of your slacks or skirt. Your greeting should include his or her name and a pleasantry, such as, “It’s so nice to meet you, Ms. Behavin’.” If you have more nice things to say, include them at this time, but don’t go overboard.

Find the middle ground

Your handshake should be firm but not crushing. You don’t want to offer a limp hand because it gives the impression of weakness. However, this does not mean you should crush the other person’s hand. Be firm but not overpowering. If the other person offers a limp hand, give a gentle squeeze. This can be a cue for him or her to grip more firmly.

Keep it short and sweet

The handshake should be approximately two to five seconds in duration. Most people prefer shorter handshakes. Be observant and follow the lead of the other person, particularly if he or she is in a superior position to you in business or social position. Don’t pump the other person’s hand more than three times, or the greeting may become uncomfortable.

Be aware of that other hand

Most people use their right hands unless they have a reason to use the left. Ideally, your left hand should be visible and unclenched. Don’t have your left hand in your pocket because this appears defensive. In business situations, you shouldn’t use your left hand to touch the other person’s arm or cup his or her hand. However, in a personal setting, you may.

Step-by-Step to shake hands properly:

  • Extend your hand with the thumb up.
  • Touch thumb joint to thumb joint with the person you are greeting. Put your thumb down, and wrap your fingers around the palm of the other person.
  • Make sure your grip is firm, but don’t break any bones – it’s not a competition.
  • Don’t over-pump. Two to three pumps is enough. Face the person, and make eye contact.

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