Advice for Students

World Class Handshakes

March 13, 2014  |     |   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 extends a hand first actually has an advantage. He or she is establishing control, taking the initiative, and being direct – all pluses in a business situation.

What makes a great handshake?  Always extend your right hand with the thumb up and fingers straight out in a vertical position.  Meet the other person’s hand web-to-web. 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.

Throughout the world a handshake is appropriate in a business relationship. Enhance your international perspective 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.

Protocol dictates that no matter where your business takes you, here or abroad, make sure every meeting, business or social, begins and ends with a handshake.


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