What Does Your Handshake Say About You?

by Karina Santolin — 

A Firm Squeeze and Three Shakes…part of the recipe of your favourite drink?
No, it is the Formula for the Perfect Handshake.

One of my pet hates is the initial meeting with someone and having a less than satisfactory exchange of handshake. A handshake is one of my key tools for determining how successful a relationship can be. I don’t mean for it to weigh so heavily on my first impression, but it does.

It is a commonly held belief that it takes only 7 seconds for someone to make their first impression of you. There are thousands of things that our brains process in that time and in business interactions, first impressions are crucial. We all do this, is it part of the way the human brain is hardwired; it is a matter of survival.

First impressions are heavily influenced by nonverbal cues rather than verbal, with decisions made often before someone even opens their mouth. Have you found it is the same for you? Can you honestly say that you haven’t met someone new, shaken their hand and not thought after a ‘limp, wet fish’ of a shake that either a. they are not to be taken seriously or b. they are not taking me seriously?

Dr Alex Lickman, in a recent article in Psychology Today summed it up perfectly for me:

“Touch cements trust, an important feeling the handshake has long symbolized.”

At a time where both genders are looking for how to bridge the gap maybe the humble handshake is a key.

Let’s look at the average person, who shakes hands nearly 15,000 times in a lifetime, with one in five admitting they hate the act of the handshake and are unsure how to do it properly, regularly making a handshake faux pas such as having sweaty palms, squeezing too hard, holding on too long or not looking the recipient in the eye during the core exchange.

What Can You Do? Well help is at hand as Discover Magazine states that scientists have developed a mathematical equation for the perfect handshake taking into account the twelve primary measures needed to convey respect and trust to the recipient. The research was performed as Chevrolet UK wanted its sales team to have a strategic edge and made the results part of a handshake training guide for its staff and is meant to offer peace of mind and reassurance to its customers.

I can’t say whether I would subscribe to the scientific formula but I do think that people need to seriously consider the message their handshake projects. Whilst Jerry Seinfeld does a quick stand up comedy segment about the handshake as an intro for an episode (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFUEerAJXRM) comedians usually are our greatest reflection of ourselves.

Teaching my daughter and my sons about the art form of the handshake is part of the ‘parenting package’ I subscribe to, and when a man recently commented to me (not knowing I was her parent) that my daughter “has a fine handshake, she’s looked me in the eye and shook my hand with confidence. That’s the kind of person who will go far in this industry!” My heart filled with pride. Why? Because the handshake is part of the measure of a person.

Whilst I may not have the answer to what is the perfect handshake, I do know the value of this form of communication and strongly recommend that you take a look at how your handshake forms part of the first impression that people make about you. It could be that your handshake – that simple yet complex interaction – has determined your ‘fate’ more often that you realize.

These thoughts are from the desk of Karina Santolin, they are my own and are not designed to be taken as fact. Hopefully though, they will inspire change, challenge perception and maybe help someone along their life path.








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