Etiquette 101: The handshake

Etiquette  is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group.

Typically, the first physical contact a man has with another man is the handshake. The VERY first impression is the handshake before you utter a word from your mouth. From the moment you lock palms, there’s an unspoken influence or a perception of who you are as a person. If you give a weak handshake, the person receiving your flimsy handshake might think you’re a weak man.  If you don’t look him in the eyes, when you give him a limp handshake, you are a very weak man. It sounds a little harsh but it’s true. If you give me a soft handshake, I may not respect you. Take this first interaction as an opportunity to make a statement. Don’t put your hand out if you’re not going to use it correctly. I may not take you serious. I may even interpret it as you disrespecting me. Yeah it’s weird, awkward even, but it’s one of those unwritten rules as a man. Women shake hands differently than men, there’s a different meaning. I’m talking about the formal handshake, I’m not talking about the one where you hug with the other arm at the same time.

I learned late in my life about the handshake. The subliminal message that’s conveyed in the handshake is present, relevant, and real. It’s the introduction to a meeting and it’s the punctuation of an agreement. Growing up I never looked people in the eye, I don’t know why but I think it was a indication of my confidence. What’s unfortunate is that people saw this about me and I didn’t know it. If I didn’t look them in the eye, it was almost like people knew something about me that gave them an edge, and I didn’t like it. I noticed it after I shook hands with men that appeared confident. I realized that confidence in their firm handshake. The nonverbal communication that happens in physical touch is significant. A handshake is perhaps the winning statement in a job interview, meeting a father for the first time, or walking across the stage to receive your diploma and shake hands with the dean.

I learned about the significance of my handshake and understood it’s meaning and usefulness in my life. I’m hoping that you learn from my inexperience, and take advantage of this knowledge. In a business setting, when you meet any man or woman for the first time, grab their hand by locking the “webbing” between your thumb and index finger with their “webbing”. Firmly GRAB their hand, LOOK them in the eyes, and SHAKE their hand. Do it like you mean it, or don’t do it at all. Be confident, be sure of yourself, it’s nothing to be scared of and there’s nothing to lose.

A handshake affects opinions, careers, and relationships. The handshake can be an; agreement, confirmation, partnership, bond, friendship, celebration. It’s an gauge of confidence, strength, and leadership in one physical act. It’s a judgment of your character. Be confident be firm, but most importantly do it right, THE FIRST TIME.


Next Etiquette 101: Speaking Up

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