Handshake Etiquette

Handshake is the acceptable standard for greeting people in most social and professional settings. A handshake can make or break your chance of landing a deal, building a connection and making a good first impression. So, if your work depends on personal interfacing, then you must learn the art of a good handshake. Below are simple handshake etiquettes:

Who should initiate
In business situations, gender is irrelevant. What matters is a person’s organizational rank. Generally, a handshake should be offered by the person of higher authority to the person of lower status. However, there could be exceptions to this rule depending on the circumstance. In a business deal for instance, some persons can take a junior shaking a senior’s hand as being bold, confident and dependable.
Note, in a situation whereby you initiate a handshake when you should not, do not withdraw your hand because that would be rude, follow through with it.

When to offer your hand
Offer your hand after an introduction has been made. Do not extend your hand before or during introduction. You may end up not getting the other person’s name which is the whole essence of the process.

What posture to assume
Unless you are physically unable to stand or you cannot move within the confines of space, etiquette requires that you stand to offer and receive handshakes.

What should be the distance?
Do not invade the other person’s personal space. Keep between three to four feet or 1 to 1.25 meters between you and the person you will be shaking hands with.

How long?
Handshake should be approximately two to five seconds long. Most people prefer shorter handshakes. Be observant and follow the lead of the other person, particularly if he or she is in a superior position to you in business or social position. If the other person continues holding onto your hand longer than five seconds, politely withdraw your hand.

How to shake
Stand and extend your right hand in front of you, halfway to the other person with your right thumb pointing upwards and your four fingers pressed together. Lean forward slightly if there is room, but not so much that your faces are uncomfortably close.
A proper handshake begins when the web of your hand (the curved expanse of space from the top of your thumb to the tip of your index finger) meets the web of another’s hand. Once connected, shake hands in an up-and-down motion while maintaining direct eye contact. The handshake should not go back and forth or side to side. Do not pump the other person’s hand more than three times, or the greeting may become very uncomfortable. When you have finished, let go of the other person’s hand then stand upright. Continue smiling as you break eye contact.

What to avoid
– Do not offer your hand before greeting or getting the other person’s attention.
– Do not use too much or too little pressure.
– Do not offer a hand that is sweaty.
– Do not wear oversized rings on the right hand.
– Do not approach someone from the side with your extended hand. It is hard to see.
– Do not have your left hand in your pocket because this appears defensive.
– In a business situation, do not use your left hand to touch the other person’s arm or cup his or her hand. However, in a personal setting, you may.

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