Skip to main content

Jane Borla
Jane Borla
2nd Year Finance Student

Ideally, when meeting someone for the first time, we shake the each other’s hand. A great handshake is critical for a great first impression. While an average handshake doesn’t stick in our mind, a bad handshake unfortunately does.

Here’s a list of what you should do when shaking someone’s hand and some of the handshake mistakes you should avoid so you don’t appear awkward, aggressive or unsure of yourself.

DO’s

1. Maintain eye contact and smile
Maintaining eye contact and smiling shows that you’re friendly and interested in the other person. It can help build trust between you.

2. Have a firm grip
A good handshake comes from the elbow not the shoulder, with the wrist and forearm remaining firm. When shaking someone’s hand, make sure both your hands are touching at the web area between your thumbs and index fingers. Hold your fingers close together and wrap them around the palm region of the other person’s hand (they shouldn’t be wrapped around any of the other person’s fingers). Maintain a light but firm pressure, which conveys confidence.

3. Keep it short
A business handshake can last up to three pumps, or approximately three seconds. Avoid overdoing it. If you hold on too long, you may make the other person feel uncomfortable and may appear anxious or unsure of yourself.

DON’Ts

1. The wet fish
This is the handshake where you or the other person has cold, clammy hands. It can happen if you’re nervous or anxious and your hands are sweating. If you know your hands are sweaty, discreetly pat your hands on your clothes before shaking hands. Or if you can, go wash and dry your hands before approaching people to shake their hand.

2. The little lady
This is the name of a soft, fingertips-only handshake—when one hand limply lays on the other person’s hand and no pressure is applied. This handshake can make you seem awkward, weak, ineffective or disengaged.

3. The bone crusher
The opposite of the “little lady” handshake, the bone crusher is when you apply so much pressure that it’s to the point of being painful. Avoid this handshake. It serves only to make you seem aggressive and is neither welcoming nor professional.

Now that you have an idea of what to do and not do when it comes to handshakes, put your knowledge into practice. Give it a try with a friend or family member so that when the time comes, you’re ready, confident and able to leave a positive first impression.

 

Sources
Get a Grip (Handshake Do’s and Don’ts)
Are You Making One of These Handshake Mistakes?
7 Handshake Rules You Shouldn’t Break

© 2018 Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa
Policies  |  Emergency Info

Close