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by Sharoon Sunny | 27-05-2019 | Bits and Pieces

Shake Hands Like a Boss

100 milliseconds is all we need to form judgments of others on a spectrum including likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and aggressiveness. What trumps any sort of predictability statistics is the human ability to intuitively form first impressions of others, and we are generally accurate and the results reliable. Everything after is a simple affirmation of what we already know.

During my training workshops, I walk around the room talking to participants to understand a little something about them, as most trainers do. Nothing noteworthy there. But, here’s what trainers get to notice almost immediately–we learn even before the session has begun who are participants really are! And it all starts with a handshake!

How you ask? 

The first thing two people do when they meet is to shake hands. In today’s world, irrespective of gender, we begin our conversations with a handshake. Though everyone understands its irrelevance, many, many people still can’t shake their hands in a manner where they let the other person know they mean REAL business (whatever that might be). There is nothing more disastrous than a limpid handshake.

Interestingly, many people do not have a good handshake, and there is a problem with that. 

Why, you ask?

It’s simple. A handshake is either a deal maker or a deal breaker. Remember the headline news when President Trump met world leaders? There were hundreds of memes about his handshake. Especially the ones with Trudeau and Macron. Here’s a snippet from the Rick Samadder’s article from The Guardian, “The nuclear display of this arseholery belongs, of course, to the US’s child-catcher in chief. Watching Donald Trump shake hands with heads of state is to witness the worst of the handshake. The unbalancing yank, the patronising pat. He is unpredictable, too – shaking with Japan’s Shinzō Abe for 19 hideous seconds, but refusing Angela Merkel’s offer entirely. I admit to enjoying the countertactics leaders use. Boxing-trained Justin Trudeau holds Trump’s shoulder, to crush his yank-nonsense. Gritty little Emmanuel Macron digs in, pumping harder and longer until all their teeth fall out. (They went to 30 seconds on Bastille Day, before going in for another round.India’s prime minister Modi nestles in for a daddy bear hug, a disorienting move of his own. “

Take as an example, the following types of cases:

The Noodle: If your handshake is limp as a noodle, you are in fact, exposing a weak inner-being. Associates will see this as a sign that you lack confidence and ability in what you do. This applies across the board for men and women. 

The Nut Crusher: Ever crushed a fully husked walnut inside a cracker? If you crush someone’s hands, then it may be portrayed as overcompensation for something else. What are you trying to hide?

The Lingerer: Some folks don’t know how long to hold on to a handshake. The rule of thumb is two seconds. Nothing too long, nothing too short. Too long and you come across as desperate. 

As there are different kinds of people, there are as many kinds of handshakes. But unlike the questions about appropriacy in cultures about when to hug or kiss, the handshake is ubiquitous. It is universal. You can only shake hands one SOLID way. Get it right, and you will absolutely seal your next negotiation. 

The last nugget I want to leave is to state how absolutely imperative it is to stand when you shake hands. If you are seated and someone walks towards you, please always stand. You want to be in a position of equality. Think about where the gaze is when one person is standing, and the other person is sitting–one is looking up and the other, down. Need I say more? 

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