Nonverbal communication is one of the key components when it comes to conveying confidence and self-assuredness when meeting other people. This post regarding handshakes is the start of an ongoing series to help you project poise in any situation.
While running some errands yesterday I ran into a “friend of a friend” who I don’t know all that well but we have met on one or two occasions. Because he is easily six foot tall and two hundred twenty pounds, upon meeting him the first initial impression is that he is a big, strong, and confident man.
Prematurely I thought, this guy must have a vice grip of a handshake so I had better go in strong because I don’t want to make the impression of a dead fish handshake.
Seriously, you would think that he’d be crushing hands like a pair of vice grips under the very weight of his larger than normal mitts. Much to my surprise the handshake that greeted me was more akin to a floppy, squishy, and soft jellyfish that had just washed up onto the beach.
In that very instant my whole perception of him changed, and it was not for the better.
The handshake, in many cultures, is an initial form of greeting and it absolutely sets the tone for how two individuals are going to interact. Honestly, because I happened to have met this person on the street there really weren’t any implications.
However, what if the situation was a little more serious like a job interview, business luncheon, or a loan committee meeting, what would have been the consequences?
Could his handshake, which definitely lacked confidence, have swayed the outcome of any one of these meetings? Creating a missed business or job opportunity, perhaps?
Whether the gentleman realizes it or not the message that is conveyed via a flaccid or strong handshake is an extremely important mode of non-verbal communication. Most importantly, handshakes do have an impact on how people will perceive you.
In this day and age of information overload it truly amazes me that some people still do not place any emphasis on the powerful nature of non-verbal communication.
Handshakes, like eye contact, say many things about who we are without ever saying a word.
According to a recent CNN article on The Worst Way To Shake Hands:
“No matter the basis of your handshake, it should become part of your repertoire. Handshakes are a sign of trust and help build strong relationships. Imagine meeting a well-groomed, well-dressed expert for the first time — but when you shake his/her hand, you feel like you’re grabbing an infant’s finger.”
When I meet someone with a strong handshake I immediately come to some assumptions (whether correct or incorrect) and here are five deductions that I make:
The person is –
serious (if in a business situation)
Conversely, if I meet an individual with a limp, or “dead fish” handshake the following five items are communicated: The person is –
lacking in determination
weak in personality
Of course, like certain stereotypes, my handshake assumptions are not always correct but they do have a certain value in social situations when trying to make impromptu determinations. If you are asking yourself, “do I have a good handshake?”
The best way to find out is to do a trial and ask a friend or family member to give you honest feedback. The good news is, having a handshake that conveys confidence is quite easy. For some it just takes a little practice.
So go out there, take over the world, and remember, if you are meeting someone for the first, second, or third time make sure you provide a firm, steady, and consistent handshake with good eye contact.