Playing handshakes is a bit like playing paper, scissors, rock. It’s more about sizing your opponent up in the moment and then outwitting him.
This week’s G20 summit was a handshake Battle Royale (massive exaggeration) with all the world leaders trying to get one over each other. The electorate don’t really care about climate change and terrorism as along as their leaders give good fist. We had Trump vs Trudeau, Trump vs Putin, Trump vs Macron, Trump vs Merkel. You get the feeling Trump winning anyway since he’s the hand they’re so desperate to best. But what about YOUR handshake. Is it your Trump card or is there room for improvement? Start your working week off right with tips from our Golden Handshake guide courtesy of The Art of Manliness below?
▪ Make sure your handshake is firm and not a dead fish grip. However, you don’t want to crush the other person’s hand with a death grip.
▪ Go for the “web touch.” You want the webbing between your thumb and index finger to meet the same spot on the other person’s hand.
▪ Make sure you don’t have food or grease on your hands. You want the person to remember you, not what you ate.
▪ If your hands are sweaty, give them a quick nonchalant wipe on your pants.
▪ When you offer your hand, look the person in the eye and smile.
A good handshake requires good timing. At a party or social event, make sure to shake the host’s hand when arriving and leaving. Shake hands with anyone you’re meeting for the first time, as well friends, family, and acquaintances with whom you don’t feel close enough for hugging to seem appropriate.
Many people avoid offering handshakes because they’re afraid of being left hanging. If you’re not sure if someone will notice your offer, extend your hand anyways. Most of the time people will notice your handshake offer and quickly grasp your hand.
So what if you are left hanging?
I hate when this happens, especially when everyone but the person with whom you were trying to shake hands saw the rejection. Don’t feel embarrassed. The problem isn’t that the other person doesn’t think you’re important, but simply that you’re timing was off. Remember the following tips:
▪ Don’t offer a handshake if the other person is engrossed in conversation with someone else.
▪ Don’t approach someone from the side with your extended hand. It’s hard to see.
▪ Audibly greet the person to get their attention and then offer your hand.
Also be aware of varying social norms. Most cultures have different customs for when and if to shake hands. In our culture, for example, you typically want to wait to see if a woman offers her hand first, instead of initiating the shake yourself. In other cultures, shaking hands with a woman is never appropriate. Be aware of these and other cultural differences, especially when you travel.
Handshakes are good everywhere! Make sure to shake plenty of hands when you go to any social gathering, religious function (again, being sensitive to varying customs), family reunion, wedding, etc. Be liberal with your handshakes, and you’ll perfect the art in no time.