Advice for Students

World Class Handshakes

July 11, 2016  |     |   0 Comment

handshake businessIn the North American business arena, strong emphasis is placed on a firm handshake because it speaks loudly about credibility, confidence and professionalism. The handshake conveys crucial messages about status and power in a form of communication that needs no explanation and one that is never misunderstood. It doesn’t matter who offers a hand first. However, the person who does extend a hand first has an advantage.  The advantage is that he or she is establishing control, taking the initiative, and being direct – all pluses in a business situation.

What makes a great handshake and leaves a positive impression upon the person with whom you are shaking hands?  First, be sure to always extend your right hand with the thumb up and fingers straight out in a vertical position.  Then, meet the other person’s hand web-to-web. Proceed to shake from the elbow, not the wrist or shoulder. Shake hands by giving two smooth pumps, and be sure to stand in a shoulder-to-shoulder stance. This means you are facing the person with whom you are shaking hands square-on, and making direct eye contact. For more detail about how to master your handshake, check out my most recent blog.

Customs differ in countries around the world, but it is a given that the North American or westernized handshake, toned down a bit, is accepted throughout the world. Enhance your international handshaking knowledge and be ready to give a world class handshake by following these hints and tips:

  • Western and Eastern Europeans re-shake hands whenever they are apart for a period of time. It is polite to shake hands when you leave for lunch and when you return. Shake hands with the oldest person or the one of senior rank and on down the line. The ranking person extends his or her hand first. Women shake hands with each other and with men. It is up to the woman to initiate the handshake with a man. When a woman fails to extend her hand to a European man, she loses credibility.
  • The French shake hands in one brisk stroke. Europeans and Latin Americans execute a light handshake that lingers twice as long as an American handshake. Pulling the hand away too soon is interpreted as rejection.
  • In the Middle-East, a handshake is rather limp and lingering. Do not pull your hand away. Take your time. Shake hands with everyone on arrival and departure.
  • In Eastern Asia, you will encounter variations in handshakes from country to country. Some countries incorporate bows, others shake both hands at once, others have a longer pumping style.
  • In Japan, a light handshake and a nod of the head are appropriate.
  • Shake a woman’s hand in North America and abroad just as firmly as you would a man’s.

In conclusion, protocol dictates that no matter where your business takes you, make sure every meeting, business or social, begins and ends with a handshake.

To learn more about how to master your handshake and people skills in order to reach your professional goals, please contact me for a complimentary 15 minute consultation at  I would love to hear from you!

To Your Success,

Erin Crotty, Founder & Director, BloomStra Consulting

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