By Morag Barrett on April 2018
We recently used a new location for one of our leadership programs. I watched incredulously as one of my team was greeted by the Hotel Manager who, having extended their hand for the customary handshake then went on to literally swing his arm from side to side. Assuming this was simply a one off aberration I walked up for my turn… only to be subjected to the same bizarre and slightly uncomfortable experience. We laughed it off… until the next day when I was introduced to a young professional who I was going to be mentoring for the next six months. He promptly offered his handshake – the proverbial limp fish. YEUK! The final straw was at a conference where two participants (who happened to be male) proceeded to crush my hand – it hurt!! I jokingly told one of them to “Whoa there cowboy! No need to crush me!” he completely oblivious as to how inappropriate and painful his handshake was.
Then it struck me. Who teaches us to shake hands? It’s not something I recall on my school curriculum. While simple as a concept, it seems to be a taken for granted gesture that has the potential to say a lot about you and leave a lasting impression.Unless someone has the confidence to give feedback on an inappropriate handshake how is one to learn?
With the Conference attendees (after I had stopped crying) I told them. With my mentee I did provide him with feedback. As our initial conversation progressed I asked him about the first impression he had hoped to communicate with his handshake and then went on to demonstrate how it felt to be on the receiving end of a limp fish. He laughed, and was slightly embarrassed – NO ONE HAD TOLD HIM.
Here are my best practices for the perfect handshake, one that is delivered with confidence. a handshake that will leave a positive first impression:
Here is some bonus information for making that first contact effective