Well, it’s because shaking hands is so common that it’s important to do it correctly.
Your handshake says a lot about you- whether you’re at the bank to apply for a loan or a cocktail party meeting new neighbors, you always want to put your best foot (actually hand!) forward.
Shaking hands is one of the first social skills I teach young people in my classes and workshops.
Elementary school-aged and older children should shake hands when meeting grownups. Here’s my student, Carly, looking confident and sharp after our handshake lesson:
When to Shake Hands
Avoid that awkward moment of wondering- do I shake or not? Just extend your right hand with confidence. Offering a handshake always makes a good impression. Use your handshake when meeting new people, to say hello and goodbye, to congratulate others, and to seal an agreement.
The 7 Basics of a Good Handshake
- First and foremost: no dead fish, wimpy handshakes, and no harsh vice grips. One communicates you’re not confident, and the other intimidates people. Your grip should be firm and comfortable.
- Your elbow is the hinge. You shake from the elbow, not your wrist or shoulder.
- Extend your right hand. You should be parallel to the other person. Good posture matters.
- Handshakes require eye contact. Look into the other person’s eyes and add in your smile.
- A handshake is only 2-3 “shakes.” Don’t go on and on shaking hands. 1-2-3 and drop hands.
- Whenever possible, stand to shake hands. Standing shows respect and that you’re truly interested in the person you’re meeting and greeting.
Let’s test your handshaking knowledge:
- A man should not extend his hand first to a lady. He only shakes her hand if she extends her’s first. True or False?
- It’s okay to decline shaking hands with a proper explanation. True or False?
- Never shake hands while wearing gloves. True or False?
- Ladies are not obligated to shake hands when meeting and greeting. True or False?
- FALSE. We’re not in the 1950s. Ladies can and should initiate a handshake when meeting and greeting, and a man should do the same.
- TRUE. There are two acceptable reasons to decline a handshake; sickness or injury. If you’re sick, simply say, “It’s so good to meet you. Excuse me for not shaking hands, but I have a cold and don’t want to pass it on to you.”
- FALSE. You may shake hands wearing gloves if you are outside and wearing them because of the weather. Once indoors, take off your glove to shake hands.
- FALSE. Refer to #1.