Tips to Effective Handshakes


Earlier, the focus of businesses was not mainly on the clients’ culture, table manners, or business etiquettes. However, today every successful businessperson essentially emphasizes on such factors, as these do influence business deals to a considerable extent. Business etiquette primarily deals with appropriate greeting practices that may include something as intense as appropriate body language, corporate dining etiquette, etc to something as simple as a handshake.

Imagine yourself at a sophisticated business event being attended by delegates of various nationalities, such as, Indians, Russians, Japanese, etc. How would you greet each of them? Is it preferable to shake a woman’s hand first? How would you feel if a smartly dressed guest gives you a “sweaty-palm-handshake”? A numb shake of a hand, also referred to as a “dead fish” handshake, indicates lack of concern. Another interesting fact is that when a business person makes a handshake using both the hands, it may indicate fake friendliness. When a handshake is firmer than necessary it may intimidate the other individual. Thus, a handshake, which is just a mere contact between two hands, certainly affects first impressions. Handshakes exist since ancient times and were considered as a gesture of harmony. Lately it is also seen as a symbol of friendliness and respect.

Though handshakes only last a few seconds, they send across a strong non-verbal message: “This is who I am, and I am interested in getting to know you better!” John F. Kennedy, former President of the United States has been known for his perfect handshakes. Take a look at these tips to shake hands like JFK!

Top Tips to Effective Handshakes
1.Stand up and lean forward while greeting an individual, make eye contact with a warm smile. It would be good to start with a voice greeting before extending your hand for the handshake.

2.Always use your right hand for the handshake!

3.A limp handshake is a big NO-NO. It always puts forth a negative impression. Make sure your handshake is firm, but not too firm either. As per research, a firm handshake indicates strength and dynamism and it undoubtedly creates a favorable first impression.

4.Smile briefly! Yes! Even a smile can be misinterpreted. An overstretched smile may indicate over eagerness and even unintelligence.

5.If you have a problem of clammy palms, it is important to wipe your hands before the handshake.

6.One of the main confusions is whether to make the first move or not to. As per the norms, a person of the higher ranking must initiate the handshake. If you and the other individual belong to the same level in terms of age and designation, you may extend your hand first for the handshake, as it portrays confidence and friendliness.

7.A finger shake is NOT a handshake. It is important to keep your fingers together with your thumb up and open.

8.Using one hand is better than using two. It is considered as too personal to sandwich an individual’s hand during a handshake.

9.An unintentional faux paus may occur while greeting people of various cultures. For example, in Switzerland, usually a handshake is offered first to a woman, Russians hardly shake hands with the opposite sexes, the Japanese have a preference for weak handshakes, Norwegian Americans prefer firm handshakes over weaker ones, and so on. It is therefore advisable to check on your guests’ etiquette before meeting them.

As seen above, a handshake is a business etiquette which acts as an effective factor in communicating one’s personality as well as objective. ITM University Online’s MBA courses aim at providing an insight into numerous other such important topics related to Organizational Behavior, the importance of soft skills and business communication, and instills confidence in its students to shake hands with poise, in business meetings!