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Academic Career Experience & Service Learning

HOW TO SHAKE HANDS

by Valerie Singer

Historically used to show that both people were unarmed, the handshake today is a critical gauge of confidence, trust, sophistication and mood.

Steps:

  1. Extend your right hand to meet the other person's right hand.
  2. Point your thumb upward toward the other person's arm and extend your arm at a slight downward angle.
  3. Wrap your hand around the other person's hand when your thumb joints meet.
  4. Grasp the hand firmly and squeeze gently once. Remember that limp handshakes are a big turnoff, as are bone-crushing grasps.
  5. Hold the handshake for 3 to 4 seconds.
  6. Pump your hand up and down a few times to convey sincerity. (This is optional.)
Tip:
  • A two-handed handshake is not for first meetings. It is a sign of real affection and should be reserved for friends or intimates.
Warning:
  • Handshakes are not appropriate in all cultures. Brush up on your knowledge of cultural traditions if you will be visiting a foreign country.

6 More Tips

  1. Lasting impression. Studies show that the impression made when you shake hands is a lasting impression, and that looking directly at the other person is one of the most important factors in making the impression. So, look at the person (and smile).
  2. Don't be a bone crusher! When shaking hands with a woman make your handshake firm but, don't crush her hand. Let the woman determine the firmness of the handshake; follow her lead.
  3. Put a smile on your face. Whenever shaking hands with someone, always smile. Believe me, it makes the other person feel happy.
  4. Remember the cultural aspect. Many cultures are hesitant about shaking hands. Within the Native American community, it's done with gentleness and great respect. Eye contact is not a comfortable action, so don't look for it.
  5. Make eye contact. It is very important to make eye contact, as it demonstrates sincerity.
  6. Wipe your hand first. When shaking hands for the first time, make sure you wipe any sweat onto your trousers. This will prevent your hand from feeling like a wet bag of clams.

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