Professional Development: What Does Your Handshake Say About You?

How to leave a positive lasting impression simply by the way you shake hands with others.

Why do we even shake hands?

Hand shakes date back to as early as the  5th Century BC and ancient Greek times. It derived from when people used swords for fighting. Swords were carried in a case on the left side of the body, and people would draw it out using the right hand. Shaking hands, which is traditionally done with the right hand, became the friendly greeting, showing that you didn’t have a sword in your hand and that you came in peace. It symbolized trust; that you wouldn’t draw out your sword to use against the one with whom you were shaking hands.

Is hand shaking popular everywhere?

No actually, it isn’t.  Some Asian countries bow instead. And in Thailand, they “Namaste.” According to BBC, “The Namaste is when the person greeting will usually say the word “Namaste” to the other, with their hands pressed together, and do a slight bow.” In France, kissing on the cheek when saying hello and goodbye are more normal than shaking hands.  It’s so important to know the business etiquette and  traditions specific to the country you are located in. You don’t want to make the mistake and adopt your country’s traditions to the one of a visiting country.

You can also tell much about personality from a handshake. For example, soft handshakes speak of insecurities, while quick-to-let-go handshakes can indicate arrogance.

Tip on how to give a firm handshake?

  • The key to giving a standout handshake is firmness. This isn’t to be confused with tightness.
  • When reaching out to shake someone’s hand, be sure to extend the forearm all the way out.
  • Your elbow should err towards a 90 degree angle.
  • Gage how long the handshake should be based on the other person.
  • Avoid pumping the hands, unless the other person suggests you do so.
  • Make eye contact and smile and/or sincerely grin.

If you cannot make a lasting impression by your handshake and your physical appearance, you might not even be granted further communication. Don’t let these minute things negatively affect you!

Hope this was helpful?

As promised, Thursdays will be dedicated to Professional Development posts. If you’re familiar with my #FutureSelfChallenge, and the things I see my future self accomplishing, then you more than likely know of my intention to become a career coach. Well today is day one of striving to fulfill that goal.



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