Get a grip – keys to a good handshake


Samuel De Leon

Last week a video of President Donald Trump shaking hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau circulated the Internet. While it is comical to notice how Trump forcefully pulls his counterpart toward himself, do not let this poor example of handshake etiquette go unnoticed.

Handshakes appear in stone artwork as early as the fifth century B.C. The New York Times explains handshakes were initially used an offering of peace; the gesture demonstrated that neither person had a weapon. This sign is still used as an offering of peace as well as a sign of respect.

Knowing how to shake hands is important. A hiring manager is apt to notice details the prospective hire will likely not consider: the applicants’ cleanliness, the amount of eye contact maintained and the handshake itself. Having a solid handshake can be the difference between getting the job or having to apply for another, according to Business Insider. “The handshake is the business greeting: Both men and women need to shake hands, and to do so correctly,” explains Barbara Pachter.

The handshake is an important reminder of the power of nonverbal communication. Here are a few things to remember before extending that next important handshake:

Dry hands. It is important to make sure you have dry hands when extending a handshake. Having a sweaty palm indicates a lack of confidence. If you have clammy hands, take a moment to hold onto the lapel of your suit jacket or sportcoat and then proceed with the handshake. If your hands are down by your side, make a quick and discrete move to brush your hands against your pant leg.

Firm grip. The grip is a nonverbal cue and the most important part of the handshake. It is important not to have a grip that crushes the other person’s hand, but do not have a limp hand either. People in power are looking to make a power play and they have to impress the applicant as well. If you shake their hand too hard, you are not allowing the hiring manager to show their power. If you have a limp hand, this is another sign of lack of confidence. Executives do not want to hire people who lack confidence.

Jewelry. This is a common item that most applicants forget. Having jewelry is already a huge distraction for the hiring manager. If you think that jewelry is necessary, it should be neutral and minimal. The idea of minimal jewelry, if any, similarly applies to the idea of a handshake;consider that hand jewelry can hurt the other person. If you have a ring, this can prod or poke the other person in the handshake, and managers remember this negatively. Take a moment to remove a large ring or other jewelry before extending your hand.

Handshakes are important, especially to executives.

Some other things to remember are not to pull the other person toward you, like President Trump, or to let them put your hand on top of the handshake. A good handshake is nice and even with your right hand. Don’t do the energizer bunny handshake, where it keeps “going and going”; a handshake should be no more than three up-and-downs or pumps. The handshake could make the difference between your next career move or your next job search.