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What Kind of Handshake Makes the Best Impression?

In the United States, the handshake is the meeting/greeting ritual. And many managers place a lot of emphasis on it. We allow impressions based on the handshake and the rituals that surround it to determine future business relationship.

Don’t extend your hand to another unless you gauge by eye contact the individual’s willingness to shake hands. Don’t extend your hand unless the person seems happy to see you. Sometimes, a person is too preoccupied to extend his or her hand. Once presence is established with a warm greeting, then you can extend your hand. Initiating the handshake is the sign of a true professional. If you are in your office and you wait for the other party to initiate the handshake, you risk being seen as timid and unsure of yourself.

When you are visiting another, of course, you wait until that person offers his or her hand. After all, this person is the host. If a handshake is not forthcoming immediately, hold out your hand. Never allow an important meeting to start without a handshake.

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The handshake itself should match palm to palm. Pressure should also match. If you receive a firm handshake, grip with the same firmness. If you receive a handshake with light pressure, don’t squeeze too hard. Cultural differences or health issues may prevent the person from extending a firmer handshake.

When shaking hands, do a mental 1-2-3 count. At 3, drop the hand. Don’t pump up and down more than once. Don’t sandwich the other person’s hand between both of yours. It suggests that you are trying to overpower, to patronize, or to claim the higher status. Don’t bone-crush or wimp out with only half of the hand. It doesn’t matter whether you are shaking a man’s or a woman’s hand. From a business etiquette perspective, it is as appropriate for a man to offer his hand to a woman as it is for her to offer her hand to him. Gender isn’t a consideration.

Some women are uncomfortable shaking another woman’s hand. Either they will nod to each other or they will hug one another. But in business, a firm handshake is the appropriate greeting.