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A great handshake in business communicates a message of warmth, sincerity and trust.

While a great handshake might not get you the deal, you don’t want to risk giving a poor one. If it’s limp or just grips the fingers, it sends a message of weakness. If it’s a bone-crusher, it conveys lack of confidence.

In the U. S.  business arena, both men and women give the same type of handshake. Here are six tips for how to give  a great handshake in business settings to send a message of confidence and professionalism,  and two handshakes to avoid:

  1. Extend the hand with the thumb up and fingers out vertically. Avoid curving the fingers in or extending the hand horizontally.
  2. Connect the “web” between your index finger and thumb firmly with the other person’s “web.” The goal is to fully embrace the hands, palm to palm.
  3. Give two firm shakes. A third pump is fine, but more than that makes you appear nervous.
  4. Don’t let the handshake linger too long.* However, after the second pump, you may pause slightly before releasing the other person’s hand. This tiny gesture adds extra warmth and sincerity.
  5. Always stand for a handshake to show respect to the other person and to yourself.
  6. Maintain eye contact during the handshake.

Handshakes to avoid:

  1.  The 2-handed shake. This is when you cover the other person’s hand with your left hand. It’s not appropriate for business except for members of the clergy and politicians.
  2.  The “terminator” shake. This is where you turn the grip for your hand to be on top. It conveys a desire for superiority and won’t win you any points.

Giving a great handshake is part of good business etiquette. It helps give a great first impression and helps build rapport. These tips will help you convey confidence and professionalism in any business situation when meeting and greeting.

*By the way, if you saw the historic Singapore Summit moment on television recently of U.S. President Donald Trump shaking hands with Chairman Kim Jong-Un from North Korea, you might wonder about their unique form of handshaking.  It lasted 13 seconds. A Fox news commentator called it “The Grip.” 

You might also like to read “Handshake or Hug in the Office?”

If you would like additional information on Rachel’s business etiquette training sessions for corporate or university groups, please contact Rachel at Rachel@EtiquetteTrainer.com.