Your challenge today is to think about how you shake hands. I know, you’re thinking, oh brother, she must be hard up for a post. No, not at all. The next 5 times you shake hands, think about what you’re doing.
We all know that the initial impression we make on people is critical to how they perceive us, particularly when we are in a job search. So it’s not just a matter of our clothes, hair and fingernails. It also has to do with how we carry ourselves, whether or not we make eye contact, our smile and yes, our handshake.
As a woman working in a man’s world for 20 years, I can tell you that the way a man shakes my hand says a great deal about how he perceives me (and perhaps women in general, but maybe it’s people in general). As a youngster, I was taught to walk confidently into a room, make eye contact with individuals, even adults and to give a firm handshake accompanied with a smile. My mother wasn’t a business person, but she knew good manners and I’m fortunate that she drilled them into me.
I was taught to avoid the following kinds of handshakes, the:
- Dead Fish – ick, it’s all folded over and just lays there
- Pump – no, up and down, up and down, one pump is plenty
- I’m Stronger Than You Are – pressure way too hard for the other person
- Sorry You’re a Girl – a wimpy little handshake that says,” I don’t take you seriously”
There are, of course, exceptions. If I have a cold, I make sure I tell the other person that I am not shaking hands due to illness. The momentary awkwardness of saying that I am not shaking hands today, is immediately forgotten with a grateful sigh. Please don’t shake my hand and then take out a tissue and blow your nose. Really. I think your mother raised you better than that.