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Give a Hardy Handshake

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Not to long ago, I had met with a client who was looking into getting a webpage designed for his business.  After we concluded our business, he left me with a handshake that kept bugging me hours after he left.  And it’s not the sort of impression you would want to leave somebody with.

Which Handshake?

First off, as far as I’ve seen, there are two kinds of common handshakes.  One is the more professional, traditional handshake that’s been used for hundreds of years.  Then there’s the thumb grip handshake, like what you would use for arm wrestling.  Usually when someone reached out with an extended arm with a straight hand, go for the professional grip.  If someone reaches out with their elbow out and their palm at an angle with their fingers slightly curled, then it’s probable that they’re going for a thumb grip.

When conducting any sort of business in a reasonably professional environment, always go for the standard professional handshake.  The thumb grip handshake is more common among college fraternities or on the city streets, so to speak.

Firm Grip

You always want to present a nice firm, strong grip, but not so strong as to crush the other person’s hand (especially an elderly person’s hand whose bones may not be as robust as a younger person’s bones).  You also don’t want to give a wimpy handshake that feels like gripping a fish.  Just use a nice, firm grasp.

Eye contact and a Smile

Eye contact is important, although sometimes tricky to do while trying to grasp the other person’s hand.  Locate the person’s hand, then once your hands are clasped, be sure to give eye contact with the other person, and smile (if the occasion calls for it).  It ensures that you’re serious about whatever business you’re conducting, and that you are the genuine article.

Dry palms

Some people have naturally dry hands, which is great, for you don’t have much to worry about.  Some people may have naturally clammy hands, which may not always be comfortable for the person you’re shaking hands with.  A slimy handshake isn’t very pleasant, and is likely to leave a bad aftertaste.

There’s a couple of things you can do.  First, avoid clenching your fists.  This traps the natural moisture and perspiration in your hands and leaves them feeling damp.  If you do have damp hands, one thing you can do is give them a good washing with soap and water in a bathroom sink, and dry them off well with a towel, paper towel, or air dry units found in public restrooms.  After that, be sure not to clench your fists.

The Other Hand

Some people like to use their left hand to give the other person a slap on the arm, or to reinforce their handshake to make it a two-handed handshake.  It’s not a good idea to give someone a friendly slap on the arm unless the both of you are well acquainted, or some other good reason.  The same goes for the two-handed grip.  Both do not speak professionally for a first-time meeting.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to benefit from these brief tips for giving a good handshake, and will give an impression that will leave the other person thinking favorably of you, and not dwelling on the impression of “what a bad handshaker” you are.  A good handshake can actually give you a slight edge in many situations.  Good luck!

(Originally published on a now-defunct blog)