Shake It: Business Handshake Etiquette

Posted by The Editors on May 6, 2011
Shake It: Business Handshake Etiquette
There’s no better way to get off on the right foot than with a confident, professional handshake. In fact, research shows a handshake can establish the same rapport that three hours of face-to-face conversation achieves.

To guide yourself to clasping and grasping success, follow body language expert Patti Wood’s step-by-step approach to shaking your way into a job offer:

1. Start early. When you see your interviewer, be the first one to stand up, put your hand out, and initiate contact. “The guessing game stresses you and the interviewer out,” says Wood.

2. Land your plane. Try this trick: Slant your hand sideways, sort of like a plan landing. Your palm shouldn’t be completely facing the ground, but slightly angled. This allows for a better hand lock.

3. It’s all in the palms. Wood says having palm-to-palm contact is the most important part of the handshake. “Symbolically, it says ‘I hold no weapon, I’m not hiding anything, and I’m safe.’ It’s primal wiring,” says Wood.

4.  Make eye contact. T
his should be a no-brainer: eye contact is essential for making a connection and showing confidence.

5. Apply pressure.
Avoid the two extremes of the dead fish shake and bone-crunching clasp. Wood says to take your cue from the interviewer, and apply no more than two squeeze levels up from what he is giving.

6. Recover—if necessary.
If your handshake gets off to an awkward start, go in for round two. Research shows people don’t even remember you went in a second time. The other alternative is to acknowledge your faux pas. “You can just say out loud, ‘Let’s try that again.’ Use your sense of humor,” says Wood. “Just the fact that you’re making the effort to try again shows a lot about you.”

About the Author