Handshake Faux Pas to Avoid | Make a Great First Impression with These Simple Tips!

Let’s talk about the classic way to greet someone, the handshake. It’s said to have originated in Greece way back in the 5th century BC when people were more likely to be carrying a sword than a pen. So, to prove they came in peace, they’d shake hands to prove that they weren’t carrying any weapons. Fast forward to today, and the handshake still means peace and respect. Shaking hands is like a signature, revealing a lot about you, from your confidence to your attitude. So, to make a killer first impression, let’s follow some basic rules of etiquette.

Offer Your Right Hand

When extending your right hand for a handshake, it is recommended to aim at an angle of approximately 30 degrees and meet at the point between the thumb and index finger. It is considered impolite to place your left hand on the hand of the person you are shaking hands with, as it may come across as a sign of superiority. To ensure a pleasant greeting, it is advisable to remove gloves and make sure your hands are dry before shaking hands, for example after holding a cold drink.

Always Stand When Shaking Hands

When it comes to showing respect, standing up during a meeting or introduction is always the way to go. Being a couch potato and remaining seated is a big no-no. Of course, there might be situations where standing is not feasible. If that’s the case, we should politely let the other person know that we would love to stand but are unable to, apologize for the inconvenience, and then shake hands. Remember, a little bit of effort goes a long way in showing respect!

Hold the Hand in a Firm and Assertive Grip

Having a weak, limp handshake is a big no-no in the professional world. It can make us seem insecure, lazy, and not very go-getter-like. Conversely, a death-grip handshake is overly aggressive and intimidating. The key is to find a balance and apply equal pressure when shaking hands. In business, it’s important to note that those with true authority never feel the need to prove themselves through physical strength. Instead, they confidently adhere to etiquette principles and assert themselves in a dignified manner.

The Handshake Should Last Approximately 3-4 Seconds

To ensure we’re on the same page, shaking hands twice in a business setting and three times in a social setting is an unwritten rule. But if our partner is unaware of this handshake code, we shouldn’t cut it short or pull away. Doing so would be impolite and against proper etiquette.

Let’s Look into Each Other’s Eyes

Maintaining eye contact and smiling during the handshake can help to create a positive and friendly atmosphere. It is recommended to maintain eye contact for a few seconds after the handshake to show respect and attentiveness.

Evaluate the Situation

Etiquette is all about creating a comfortable and relaxed environment for those around us. So, if someone is unable to shake hands in a particular situation, such as when holding something, we don’t offer our hand. And if we can’t shake hands at the moment, there’s no need to worry. A simple smile and polite nod of the head will suffice.

Avoid Other Physical Contact

When it comes to business settings, it’s best to stick to handshakes and avoid other types of physical contact like hugs or cheek kisses. Of course, if someone else initiates these actions, we don’t want to be rude by refusing them outright. And when it comes to handshakes, it’s important to remember to keep an appropriate distance and avoid pulling the other person’s hand too forcefully.

Who Should Offer Their Hand First?

Traditionally, the socially more important person would offer their hand to the less important person. This meant that women offered their hand to men, older individuals to younger individuals, and superiors to subordinates. However, modern etiquette is moving away from this rule, and we now shake hands naturally and mutually. Nevertheless, we should always consider the situation and determine if it’s appropriate to offer our hand first. For instance, it may be deemed impolite if a man offers his hand to a woman first. In the end, etiquette is all about avoiding uncomfortable situations and putting others first.

Read about conversation starters in the article 8 Conversation Topics for Networking Events. Or read A Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Networking.

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