Success Rule #8 – Cultivate a Firm Handshake

Is your handshake firm and solid or weak and squishy? Man or woman a firm handshake says confident and authoritative. Although there are a number of stories claiming the origin of the hand shake, the bottom line is it is a sign of respect, and one indicating equality between greeters. So important is the handshake that it has created nations, ended wars and sold everything from household items to million dollar companies. It’s just as important for you today in business as well as social environments.

Studies have indicated people with firm handshakes are generally more extroverted than are those with limp handshakes and that the firm handshakers make a better first impression – and it’s not just a guy thing. Having a firm handshake is important for making a good impression for both men and women. Typically men have firmer handshakes than women but women who have firm handshakes tend to be evaluated as positively as men are. Interestingly enough, when women have characteristics that are similar to men, they tend to elicit a somewhat more negative evaluation – simply because it’s counter to the usual stereotypes. A man however who has a weak or limp handshake will usually have a negative evaluation.

So, what should we make of this? For women who are timid about shaking hands or who feel that handshaking is, traditionally, a masculine activity and who might not shake hands as firmly as they otherwise would, the message is – go ahead, shake the hand firmly, you’ll make a great impression when you do. For men and women, face forward, shoulders squared with the individual whose hand you are shaking. Make direct eye contact, be sure your hand embraces the whole hand of the other persons, wrap your four fingers firmly around the others persons palm, seat the crook of your thumb and forefinger solidly in the crook and forefinger of the other persons. Smile. Make eye contact as you say hello or speak.

Remember Success Rule #7, know it or not, you are being judged.


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