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Practicing the perfect handshake

A handshake is often part of that all-important, made only once, first impression. Here are some tips to leave a lasting impression.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2007 12:40 IST
HT Cafe
HT Cafe

A handshake is often part of that all-important, made only once, first impression. Introductions can produce some anxiety when we aren’t sure what to do. Rules are more lax than they used to be, but following these guidelines might help avoid anxiety and create an atmosphere for building rapport.

A handshake is appropriate when you’re being introduced, when you say goodbye, when you greet someone and when you welcome someone to your home, office, place of business or wherever you gather with business associates or clients.

A warm greeting accompanied by a handshake can set the stage for a friendly, welcoming atmosphere necessary for establishing effective communication and achieving satisfying results from your interactions.

Here are a few up-to-date suggestions.

The grip: A firm but gentle grip suggests confidence. A limp grip or one with just the fingers extended suggests timidity. A bone-cruncher is too forceful and overly eager. A handshake should be palm-topalm, web to web. Smile and make eye contact. Gently pump your hand once or twice and let go.

Always stand for introductions no matter your gender.. just briefly rise which is the best you can do at the moment, and extend your hand.

Non-gender: It’s no longer expected that a man waits for a woman to put out her hand first or that the grip be different man-to-man, man-to-woman or woman-to-woman. A handshake is appropriate no matter what the gender.

Two hands? Maybe: Using two hands when riding a bicycle is a good idea. Using the two-handed grip may also be a good idea when you honestly want to communicate sincerity and warmth. However, it may also communicate insincerity two much inti , macy and an attempt at intimidation. Use it sparingly and appropriately .

Be cool: If you extend your hand to someone and that person doesn’t extend back, just withdraw your hand and go on with your greeting. Unless you’ve done something really awful, the other person is behaving badly .

What’s the rule? Here are some general rules to follow: Younger is introduced to older, associate to client, peer to employer, lesser rank to higher rank. That latter one sounds a little stuffy but in business there’s no sense , in being thought of as bad mannered by those in charge. Here’s a typical greeting.

Stand except when... Always stand for introductions no matter your gender unless you’re physically impaired or you’re wedged in behind a table and can’t get up. Just briefly rise, which is the best you can do at the moment, and extend your hand.

Forgetting a name: There are times when the situation calls for your best judgment, but what’s most important is that the greeting and the introduction takes place at all. If possible, make sure you have all the names before hand. If not, it’s better to ask than to ignore.

A friendly handshake, a warm smile and eye contact may be your first experience with someone whose attitudes and decisions can make a difference to your business or profession.

Establishing trust and respect from the beginning is the first step toward mutually beneficial outcomes.

First Published: Feb 08, 2007 13:00 IST