In the simplest of terms, a handshake is a way to make a physical and social connection with others. So why is the handshake so important?
First Impressions: A handshake sets the tone when meeting someone for the first time. This can be particularly important during a job interview. A firm handshake, along with eye contact, conveys confidence in yourself and your abilities. Extending your hand first also shows eagerness and enthusiasm. These non-verbal cues have a far reaching impact. Some CEOs have said that if they had to choose between candidates who are equally qualified, the position will be given to the candidate with the better handshake. By contrast, a limp handshake comes off as being weak, timid, or uninterested.
Trust: Trust can be built through a good handshake with eye contact. With every handshake you are instilling a sense of trust and confidence in your words and skills. Landing a job, attracting great employees, seizing sales opportunities, or gaining business partners can’t happen without trust.
Negotiations: From the boardroom to the courtroom, a firm handshake asserts your strength and also demonstrates your willingness to compromise or reach an agreement. Be careful though, if your handshake is too firm you’ll convey a sense of assertiveness or even dominance.
Now that you know why a handshake is important, how do you go about making it good? Practice, and lots of it. Practice with your family and friends and ask for their honest feedback. Keep in mind that when you know you will be in a situation where you might shake hands with someone keep your right hand free, out of your pocket, and when possible dry. While maintaining eye contact, extend your right hand with the thumb straight up towards the ceiling. Keep your hand open and palm flat, making contact diagonally. Wrap your fingers around the other hand, almost as if your hand was hugging the other. Shake from your elbow two or three pumps. Release and step back.
Good luck and happy shaking!