Monday, June 23, 2008

Your Handshake Can Make or Break a 1st Impression

“National Handshake Day” is this Thursday, June 26, 2008.

You may read this and laugh or think, “What will they think of next?

So, why did I create this "holiday?" Despite what many may think, handshaking is a serious topic ... since a person’s handshake can make or break a business deal -- not to mention create a horrible first impression.

Unless you’re major “germaphobes” like Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, or Donald Trump, who avoid touching anyone’s hands whenever possible, start practicing your handshake now!

Here's some general information about the handshake:

1) Handshakes have been around practically since the birth of civilization, and were originally a way to prove that you had no weapons in your hand when meeting someone new.

2) A study by the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, to be published in September 2008, marked the first time researchers quantified the importance of a good handshake in job interviews. The study found that students who scored high with five trained handshake raters were also considered to be the most hireable by job interviewers from Iowa City-area businesses. The professor who coordinated the study said, “We found that the first impression begins with a handshake that sets the tone for the rest of the interview.”

3) One survey of HR professionals indicates that potential employers are MORE likely to overlook visible body piercings or tattoos than an ineffective handshake. They said they’d turn down an applicant who has a weak handshake than one with obvious body piercings or tattoos!

Let's hope you don't recognize your own handshake in this list of 10 Nightmarish Handshakes to Avoid:

1) The “macho cowboy” ... the way many businessmen like to shake hands, with men and women alike, with an almost bone-crunching clasp – what are they trying to prove, anyway? There’s no need to demonstrate your physical strength when shaking another person’s hand.

2) The wimp -- usually delivered by men afraid to “hurt the little lady” when shaking women’s hands. Modern female professionals expect their male counterparts to convey the same respect they’d show their male colleagues.

3) The “dead fish” – delivered by men and women alike, and conveys no power. While no need to revert to the #1 macho death grip, a firm clasp is more powerful than one that barely grabs the hand.

4) The “four finger” – when the person’s hand never meets your palm, and instead clasps all four fingers, crushing them together

5) The cold & clammy – when it feels like you’re shaking hands with a snake. Warm up your hand first BEFORE grabbing someone else’s.

6) The sweaty palm – what else needs to be said except “yuck!” Talcum powder to the rescue!

7) The “I’ve got you covered” grip – when the other person covers your handshake with his or her left hand as if the shake itself is secretive.

8) The “I won’t let go” – when a shake seems to go on for eternity, because the other person won’t drop his or her hand. After two or three times pumps, it’s time to let go.

9) The “southpaw”– when the person uses a left hand to shake, because he or she has a drink or food in the right hand. My advice – at cocktail parties or any social event, always carry your drink and plate with your left hand ... keeping your right one free for meet and greets.

10) The “ringed torture” – when the person’s rings hurt your hand. Try to limit the rings you wear on the right hand to only one or two, and be mindful of any rings you wear that have large stones.

Here are effective handshake guidelines, from my book Professional Impressions … Etiquette for Everyone, Every Day:

1) As you approach someone, when you are about three feet away, extend your right arm out, at a slight angle across the chest, with your thumb pointing upward.

2) Lock hands, thumb joint to thumb joint. Then, firmly clasp the other person’s hand – without any bone crushing or macho posturing.

3) Pump the other person’s hand two to three times and let go. The handshake is a lot like a kiss -- you know when it’s over!

4) Six steps for an effective meet-and-greet involving a handshake:
• Stand (men and women)
• Step or lean forward,
• Look at the eyes of the other person
• Have a pleasant or animated face
• Shake hands
• Greet the other person and repeat his or her name

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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