In a world where technology is everywhere, there is nothing that will ever replace the personal contact that the handshake provides. The handshake is the single most important non-verbal form of communication in which we are judged by others.
A positive handshake offers a bridge to future relationships and opportunities. It can reveal information about you, including: what kind of person you are, your personality and your sincerity. To appreciate the importance of the handshake, it may be helpful to learn about it.
The ritual of the handshake began during the Middle Ages, not out of friendship, but out of fear and distrust. Imagine living in a world where there was always the threat of danger. In order to protect oneself from wild animals, bandits or thieves, it was common to carry and conceal a weapon for protection. The right hand was used to hold onto a weapon because the left hand was considered evil.
When two strangers, both carrying weapons met, there were limited options. The choices were to: fight each other, let each other continue on their way or possibly become friends. Friendship began with when both individuals either put their weapons on the ground or opened their right forearms to prove that nothing was concealed that would harm the other. That act of connection is how the handshake began.
Today we shake hands for a variety of reasons throughout the day, at business meetings, and interviews and during social and special occasions.
Until the 1930s, handshaking was used exclusively by men. It was the tradition for a lady to curtsey with a slightly bent knee, lowering the body, the dress held out to the sides. When women joined the workforce, handshaking became the norm for everyone.
There are a variety of handshake styles, all of which provide numerous combinations and variations. If you take the time to learn how to shake hands, you will be able to gain more insight and be better able to decipher the messages behind the handshakes you receive.
For example, a bone-crushing-twisting combination often reveals a dominant and aggressive personality. A handshake that feels like a dead fish sometimes reflects a total disinterest and lack of personality. A sloppy handshake may be reflective of someone who is unsure about how to shake hands and may have limited social skills and experience.
How to Shake Hands
In case you needed some brushing up, here is a basic rundown of how to shake hands:
- Extend your hand with your thumb pointed upward and your four other fingers straight ahead
- Grasp hands so that the web of your hand matches the same point on the other person
- Do not offer (or take) just the fingers
- Hold firmly, but without a crushing grip
- Pump two or three times while making eye contact
- The handshake should last two or three seconds
Helen Keller, blind and deaf from birth, was reputed to have the ability to recognize and remember individuals from their handshake for up to two years after a single meeting.
You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Your handshake is your personal signature and a reflection about who you are. No one has a handshake that feels exactly like the one you offer.
With confidence and practice your handshake will be remembered, even if your name is forgotten.
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