Shaking hands is part of the first impression. The first impression begins with your appearance. And then, the way you greet others. There are a few ways to greet others – a hug, a nod, a kiss on the cheek, prayer hands, and the hand shake. For this post, we are going to break down the handshake.
Handshakes say so much about a person. And we will spend the next few paragraphs explaining not only what each handshake can say about you, but also how to judge and improve yours.
1.. Do not shake hands with limp fingers. Shaking hands with limp fingers will give the person the sensation of shaking hands with cooked spaghetti. Unpleasant. And not a good way to start a relationship.
Although some ladies think limp fingers make them look classy and delicate. It doesn’t. Not anymore. Today, it only creates a first impression that is weak.
In the past, a lady of the upper-class was supposed to be appear delicate, as if she never lifted a finger to even comb her own hair. This impression was a display of wealth. The wealthier a lady’s family and husband was, the less she had to do. With the long battle for female rights, power, and wealth, such weakness, once admired, can now appear sickly and weak-willed.
Also, limp fingers can give the impression of arrogance, that you do not want to touch the other person’s hand. This is of course an impression you never want to give.
2. Do not shake hands with overly strong fingers. Such a grasp can be painful to other ladies. It can also appear like aggressive behaviour. A handshake is not a hand wrestling match. It is also not the time to challenge an opponent with a show of brute force.
3. Do not shake hands with exuberance. Two or three shakes is sufficient enough. Anything more can make you look like an over-excited puppy or a fan-atic. A lady should always remain poised and graceful while exhibiting an appropriate amount of interest. You never want to appear disinterested, nor do you want to appear like a crazy fan.
4. Do not hold a hand too long. After the second or third shake, give a one second pause and then release the hand. You never want to play tug-of-war with another person’s hand. Meaning, a person should not have to tug his or her hand out of your grasp.
5. Do not drop a hand too early. By dropping a hand too quickly, you can upset the other person. It can appear that you do not want to shake hands with the person.
6. Do not grab the person’s hand in his or her space. When standing in front of a person, recognize their space versus your space, and the invisible line in between. So, when shaking hands, wait for the other person to stretch out their arm and meet you halfway. Do not grab a hand that is not at that halfway line. And definitely do not grab and shake hand that has not been offered to you.
7. Do not shake hands while keeping your hand close to your body. You too should make sure to stretch your arm and hand to that halfway line. To do otherwise is a challenge of power and a statement of superiority.
8. Do not wipe your hands after shaking someone’s hand. This is insulting to that person. And even if the person might not see, someone else might. And there are so many ways one can misconstrue that action. If for example, the person had a sweaty palm, wait a moment and then discreetly rest your palm on your hip or stomach. Do not wipe, instead rest. This should remove any excess moisture without creating any negative reactions.
9. Do not shake hands with a sweaty or wet palm. This certainly will not feel pleasant for the other person. Wet palms can happen for many reasons: a hot day, overactive glands, a cold drink in your hand… So, be aware of the feel of your hand before a handshake. If your hands are wet, discreetly wipe your hand before shaking another. However, if possible, it is best to keep your hands dry when at the shaking portion of an event. It is better to not have to wipe.
10. Do not shake hands using a dirty hand. It is better to show the dirt or food on your hand and apologize for being unable to shake the person’s hand, then to gross the person out. The person is more likely to be grateful than insulted. Shaking with dirty hand can be considered offensive or a sign of a lack of respect.
11. Do not lick your fingers and then offer them for a handshake. No only is it unsightly, it is unsanitary.
When shaking hands, follow these easy steps…
1.. If you are walking up to a person, approach with good posture, shoulders down, and interest in your eyes. If the other person is watching you, they are already judging your entire appearance – what you are wearing, how you are walking, your eye contact, your facial expression(s).
2. Stop between a one-half and one arm length away. Some say 3 to 4 feet. But because women come in so many heights, we prefer to base it on arm length. The key is: make sure you are not so far that you have to bend forward in order to shake someone’s hand. At the same time, make sure you are not so close your elbow has to be pushed far behind your body. And not so close you invade the other person’s space.
3. Stretch your arm to reach halfway between you and the person with your palm open and facing sideways. Don’t forget to smile and make eye contact when you do this.
4. Grab the person’s hand with a firm grasp. While doing this, it is also best to mirror the person’s grasp. If the person has a firm grasp, continue with your firm grasp. If the person has a limp grasp, soften your grasp to mirror the person. At this point, you can also give a slight, but graceful bow of your head. Make sure to practice this in the mirror first.
5. Pump the person’s hand one to three times. Remember to remain graceful and poised. Keep movements small. Keep your arm movement minimal, not stiff nor exuberant.
6. Open your hand to release theirs. Remember to keep looking interested. Do not allow your eyes to wander looking for the next person to greet. Make sure to have an appropriate small-talk topic ready for after the shake. If you are in a receiving line or if there are people behind you waiting for their turn to shake hands, you may have to quickly move along after the handshake.
Ladies! We are excited to say, we now have an 8 week course on elegant deportment. It is the most in-depth deportment course on the internet, created by family and friends of diplomats and finishing school graduates. The course covers formal etiquette and upper-class mannerisms with exercises, lessons, and tips on how to sit, walk, and so much more. To sign up, click here.
Poise, grace, elegance, and savoir-faire are the end result of study and practice.