Does Your Handshake Make a Positive Personal Impact?

Today is Tuesday, so this post is on positive personal impact.

Your handshake is one of the most important ways to make a positive personal impact.  This is true for women as well as men.  A good handshake can win you business and build your career; a poor one can hamper your career and life success.

A little history – the handshake was originally developed as a means to demonstrate to another person that you meant him or her no harm.  One’s open hand indicated the lack of a weapon or any other instrument that could harm another person.  In a sense, a handshake today means essentially the same thing.  When you extend your hand to another person, you are nonverbally telling him or her that you are open to him or her and harbor no malice.

Your handshake should be firm – but not overly so.  Here’s how to give a good handshake.  Extend your right hand with your fingers together and your thumb up and slightly to the side.  The web of your hand, the part between your thumb and forefinger, should go all the way to the web of the other person’s hand.  Close your thumb over the other person’s and squeeze – not too hard, but not too easy. 

You should always stand to shake hands.  This means getting out of your chair if you are sitting down.  Lean toward the other person, smile and look the other person in the eye.  Give his or her hand one or two pumps and then let go.

Here are some of the times in business when you should extend your hand to another person:

  • When you are introduced to someone for the time.
  • You meet someone you haven’t seen for a while.
  • To greet someone who enters your office, or when you enter his or her office.
  • You see someone you know on the street.
  • When you are saying goodbye.
  • Whenever someone extends his or her hand to you.

In social and networking events, you want to be ready to shake hands at all times.  That means you should keep your right hand free.  Carry your briefcase or purse in your left hand.  At a party, hold your drink or food in your left hand.  In this way, your right hand will be free to shake hands with the people you meet.

Finally, a few don’ts.  Don’t embarrass other people by extending your hand to them when they have their hands full.  Don’t grab another person’s fingers when you shake hands.  This is rude and puts you in a controlling position.

A handshake is a small thing – some of you might even say it’s such a small thing, that it’s not worth a blog post.  However, I believe that a handshake is an important part of making a positive personal impact.  A good solid handshake identifies you as a self confident person who is interested in meeting others.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website to subscribe to my monthly ezine and for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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