Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Handshake Etiquette- Part 1

You do not have to be involved in high-level negations to understand the importance of a good handshake. The fact that you have probably experienced good handshakes and suffered through the bad ones personally should be enough to convince you of the importance of perfecting your handshake technique.

A handshake can make or break your chance of landing a deal, building a connection and making a good first impression.

Business people must be ready and willing to shake hands routinely throughout a workweek. It doesn’t matter whether they have issues with personal space or not. Business handshake protocol requires that a hand of greeting be extended to your superiors as you greet, to new clients or customers, to every person in a group as you are introduced in a business meeting situation (and then again as you leave), and especially during ‘prime time’ i.e. upon closing a deal. This protocol applies to interview situations as well.

What does a socially acceptable handshake look like?

Thankfully, the rules of handshake etiquette are clear, and are the same for men and women here in North America. Normally it is the host who has to initiate the handshake.

Tip 1 - Be aware of power distance relationships when meeting someone for the first time from a different geographical or culture than your own. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Let the person you are meeting determine "space distances" for you. It's always better to be safe so approach with a hidden sense of caution to let the person you're meeting "take the lead" and determine how close or far to come to you for a handshake.

Tip 2 - Stand and extend your right hand straight out in front of your body, with your elbow slightly bent, and your thumb pointing to the ceiling. Lean forward slightly if there is room, but not so much that your faces are uncomfortably close.

Tip 3 - Keep eye contact; do not glance down at the hand offered as you shake.

Tip 4 - Smile and keep a pleasant expression; not stiff or overeager.

Tip 5 - Close your fingers around the other hand with your thumb resting to the side. Grip palm-to-palm with a slight firmness (like a gentle squeeze), as you raise your hand slightly up and down for the “shake.”

Tip 6 - As you shake hands you should always say something. You can either repeat the person’s name in your greeting or say something such as, "It’s nice to meet you" or "it’s a pleasure to meet you."

Tip 7 - Shake firmly, pump 2-4 (3-4 seconds) and then release. Unfortunately, the number of seconds will vary depending on the situation, and if you stand there counting them it defeats the whole purpose of seeming natural and at ease.

Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.