Avoid These Types of Handshakes That Will Hurt Your Influence



Last Updated: Sep 20, 2018
Is your handshake putting people off? Here are eight types of handshakes that damage your credibility and hurt your influence with others.

Have you ever wondered what your handshake says about you? Your handshake is like your business card. It conveys your confidence, credibility and influence without sharing a single word. Studies have shown this one simple gesture can enhance a social situation and make a positive impact on others.

In our culture, a handshake accompanies almost every introduction and initiates many conversations. It sets the tone for new relationships by signaling others of your integrity. People often admit to judging others based on this small gesture. Because of this, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology encourages everyone to pay attention to their handshake as it has found significant consistencies in a firm handshake and a positive first impression.

Make a great first impression by considering your handshake and what it says about you and avoid these 8 types of handshakes that will hurt your influence with others:

Also known as the limp noodle, this handshake conveys weakness and uncertainty. It gives people the impression you have a passive personality and can be easily overrun. Don’t use this handshake even when tempted to be gentle with a person due to age or gender.

Want someone to forget your name immediately? Squeeze their hand with constant force. They’ll be so distracted from the pain they’ll tune out anything you say. This type of handshake diminishes trust others are willing to place in you. It sends the message you’re trying too hard, and people will likely question what you say after that.

Few things can make a handshake recipient more uncomfortable than someone who won’t let go of their hand. Handshakes should be no more than two seconds in length. Anything longer begins to cross personal boundaries and feels like a desperate invasion of space.

First bumps and fancy handshakes have their place – with friends and family. They have no business in the workplace. They reflect a lack of awareness and a need to be revered as ‘cool’ not credible. Images of frat boys and football parties come to mind instead of experienced professional. 

A handshake is intended to kick-start a meaningful connection. When shaking someone’s hand, be deliberate with your eye contact and don’t rush the exchange. Nothing makes someone feel like they’re unimportant or being blown off quite like shaking hands with a person in a rush or looking around at others.

We all get nervous and have anxiety before big meetings or introductions. It’s natural. What isn’t natural; however, is the feeling of contacting someone’s sweaty palms. If probably already know if you are likely to have unusually wet palms before the introduction. If so, carry a handkerchief in your pocket to use just before the introduction. You can wash your hands with cold water to help keep them cool under pressure.

We’ve all shaken hands with someone who uses both of theirs to embraces our both top and bottom. While this is perfectly normal in a personal situation with friends and family, it’s out of place in a professional setting. You can convey a message of warmth with your eyes, smile and choice of words. There is no need to embrace someone’s hand in such a personal manner.

The shug is best known as a handshake that pulls the receiver closer to you physically, almost as if you were going to hug them. It forces them to come closer as your hand stays closely tucked into your body. While this type of handshake is common among friendly colleagues and peers, it sends a message of favoritism to those on the outside looking in. Remember your handshake conveys a message to everyone, not just the person with whose hand you’re shaking.

Practice the perfect handshake first by seeking feedback on yours. Ask someone you trust to help identify areas of opportunity. Then, practice it on others to solicit feedback and more guidance until you’ve mastered the art. Some keys to the perfect handshake include:

You want to be so confident in your handshake style that it is second nature. Seeking feedback and frequent practice will help solidify your good habits, so you can concentrate more on meeting the person and less on the impression you’re making. The more comfortable you become, the confidence you’ll convey.

Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke Inc. She is the author of Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday and Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A to Z to Influence Others to Take Action. Stacey and her team have delivered thousands of presentations and workshops for leaders of Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, Nationwide, FedEx, Kohl’s and AbbVie. Learn more about her team and company at: www.staceyhankeinc.com and connect with her on Twitter, @StaceyHankeInc.

Business Know-How/Attard Communications, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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