I’m back from the leadership conference, but I still have plenty of wisdom to impart that will help you do your job better and maybe even take your career to the next level.
We spent 60 minutes of a 90-minute class talking about performing a proper handshake, so either it’s really important or the instructor let the hypothetical situations posed by attendees get a little out of hand (example: “What if the person I’m greeting has no hands?”). So here’s a sub-hour rundown on performing The Power Handshake.
- Make eye contact. This is a given, right? You’d think so, but at a conference where everyone is wearing a name tag on his or her chest, the lettering on the tag can be a tempting distraction. This is especially bad when you’re greeting a woman because she may think you are checking out her womanly areas. So make a conscious effort at the start of a handshake to meet the other person’s eyes and keep yours focused there until the handshake is over. Then you can check out my boobs.
- Be ready to start or receive the handshake. The first time you meet someone, either you or she will likely want to shake hands. If the other person doesn’t appear to be initiating the action, get set to start it yourself as soon as introductions begin.
- Palm to palm for 2-3 seconds. Okay men, as much as you don’t want to injure a lady’s hand, they also don’t want you to give them that limp-wristed, grab-only-her-fingers shake. Greet the other person with the same firm, palm-to-palm handshake regardless of gender or age. Just don’t overextend your welcome; three seconds is plenty of time to perform a proper shake.
- Apologize for sweaty, dirty hands. If you’ve been digging in the garden or running a marathon, you may excuse yourself from a handshake, but do so verbally and with a proper excuse so as to not appear rude.
- Shake with the senior person or VIPs first. When meeting a group, first offer your hand to the highest-ranking or most important member of a group. For example, greet a Navy admiral before a cadet. Also greet customers before co-workers, even if their relative ranks may suggest doing otherwise.
- Keep the shake in the safe zone. Hands to hands… and that’s it. Some folks like to use the free hand to grip the other person’s elbow or shoulder or worse–move in for the dreaded nice-to-meet-you hug! Of course, you may encounter someone who will greet you in this manner; you’ll just have to grin and bear it.
- Take notice of local customs. Hugs or cheek kisses may be the proper greeting in some countries, so be sure to study up on local salutations and be ready to use them if indicated by the other party. If I ever start my own country, please note that the proper greeting will be rubbing the other person’s tummy.
Adapted from a presentation © 2006, The Nyman Group.