The Handshake

There is perhaps no single action in the business world that creates a connection with people faster than a handshake. In fact, a study by Dr. Allen Konopacki for the Incomm Center in Chicago concluded that a handshake produces “a higher degree of intimacy and trust within a matter of seconds.” Conversely, a poor handshake can send long-lasting negative messages which can hinder your ability to build positive business relationships.

A proper handshake conveys confidence, warmth and charisma. A poor handshake can send the message you are unprofessional, disinterested and socially unskilled. Here are the dos and don’ts of a good handshake:

The perfect handshake:

It begins with lots of eye contact and a brief, warm smile. Extend your arm with your hand perpendicular (thumb to the ceiling), neither dominant (palm down) nor submissive (palm up). Move your hand firmly into the other person’s until the web between your thumb and forefinger are making solid contact. Firmly close your hand over the other person’s for 1-2 seconds. Make a subtle, almost imperceptible up-down motion, then release the other’s hand. Remember to keep your fingers together.


  1. Crush the other person’s hand. You’re connecting, not competing

  2. Keep your hand limp. The ‘dead fish’ handshake says ‘dead

    fish personality’

  3. Do the finger squeeze. This is a common style where you just

    bend your fingers over the other person’s. It comes across as

    unprofessional, and sends the message that you don’t care

  4. Pull away. If you briefly touch the other person’s hand and pull

    away, the other person will feel rejected

The same rules apply for both men and women. Not sure of your handshake? Practice with a friend or family member. It’s much too important to leave it to chance.

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