The origin of the handshake is disputed, but one theory suggests it was a sign of peace or in other words that you’re not armed. While the world, including the business world, is in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s difficult to see if greeting by handshake will need to adapt or be replaced by something else. “Elbow bumps” might be the new handshake — who knows? There’s no denying that nonverbal communication like the handshake is a valuable way to express your intentions and personality.

One of the first things I learned when I took my first business class was the importance of a firm handshake. My instructor would stand at the door at the beginning of each class and shake everyone’s hand. Being  sophomores in high school at the time, my classmates and I found this funny. Why was he shaking our hands? Well, I realize now that he was testing our confidence and assertiveness.

According to the BBC, “Firm handshakes have been linked positively to extraversion and emotional expressiveness and negatively to shyness and neuroticism.” A handshake that is weak suggests that you are uninterested but a handshake that is too strong can come off as aggressive. So, how can you get a perfect, firm handshake? Here are a few tips!

  1. TIMING- The best time for a handshake is upon arrival, when you first meet someone, or when you are leaving. 
  2. WIPE YOUR HANDS- You don’t want sweaty or greasy hands during a handshake so make sure your hands are clean. 
  3. LOOK THE PERSON IN THE EYE- Eye contact is a power move and allows you to remain confident during a handshake. 
  4. “WEB TOUCH”– The Art of Manliness talks about the “web touch” which means that the webbing between your thumb and index finger should touch with the other person’s during a firm handshake.
  5. DON’T SHAKE FOR TOO LONG- After awhile of shaking hands with someone, it may start to feel like you’re holding hands so don’t let the handshake go on for too long.

Working on a good, firm handshake will improve your professional image. Remember, the handshake is one of the first ways an employer remembers you and studies have shown that a firm handshake increases your chances of getting hired, especially if you are a woman. So don’t be afraid to extend your hand to everyone you meet, the more handshakes you practice, the better they will be. 

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