The first physical contact people have with one another is a handshake. The messages conveyed in a simple handshake can be complex and very revealing even in their subliminal subtleties.

Ideally a handshake involves one hand from each person. The web of each hand meets followed by a firm grip and two or three up and down ‘shakes’. Too firm of a handshake indicates a desire to be dominant, as does overturning a hand. The hands should be perpendicular to the ground. A limp handshake indicates a lack of confidence and should be avoided at all costs.

The use of one’s left hand is to be avoided, as it is both too familiar and best reserved for conveying condolence – much as a member of the clergy might employ. Keeping your left hand at your side is a best practice.

In business, how we shake the hand of a new client or someone with whom we are considering doing business, has the power to influence our final decision. We like doing business with people we like and trust, people who are confident and well grounded. A well-delivered handshake sets the mood for all further interaction – both verbal and written.  Making a good first impression is important and a handshake is an integral part of this impression. Make sure yours is perfect!

I refer anyone seriously interested in understanding the importance of this skill to
The Power of Handshaking: For Peak Performance Worldwide by Robert E. Brown and Dorothea Johnson

This is part of an ongoing series on etiquette in the workplace. Read previous posts here.