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Tue, Nov 09, 2010
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What a handshake says about you
by Angela Oh

HANDSHAKING is something we do so often that we take it for granted and fail to realise its significance.

I was fortunate to learn the art of handshaking in my first job, and it has served me well throughout my life.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, there is a major energy point at the centre of our palms.

Therefore, when we engage in a handshake, we are transmitting our inner emotions to each other through our palms.

A good handshake is one where we grip the other person's hand for a few seconds while maintaining good eye contact and flashing a pleasant smile.

It should convey warmth and sincerity.

In fact, handshakes go even deeper: They reveal our true feelings, the hidden messages in our minds.

When a person is not honest, there will be an inconsistency between what he says and what he does with his hands.

I've had several encounters with clients where I was able to "read" their minds after a handshake.

Once, I met a potential customer who gave me a very cold handshake even though she appeared friendly. Sensing that she needed some time to warm up, I deliberately asked her questions about herself to get her to open up.

She gradually relaxed and became more open to what I had to offer.

If I had gone straight ahead to do my presentation, she would have turned a deaf ear to my pitch and the whole meeting would have been futile.

Handshakes can make or break a first impression. Studies have shown that interviewees with good handshakes are viewed in a more favourable light: They are perceived to be confident individuals well worth hiring.

There are various kinds of handshake. Some are too overpowering while some are too weak. Different handshakes have different meanings and tell us a lot about the person we are shaking hands with.

When a handshake is extended with only the fingertips, it indicates a passive individual with low self-esteem.

But when someone places his whole palm in your hand, he is showing off his dominance and power.

You should also be careful not to hold another person's hand for too long, as that would create awkwardness and possibly send out the wrong signals.

You should also avoid squeezing the other person's hand too hard or shaking too vigorously as that would portray you in a negative light.

Eye contact is also crucial as it not only conveys confidence but also sincerity.

Have you ever come across a person who shakes your hand without looking you in the eye?

I don't know about you, but it gives me second thoughts about the person.

And, please, smile from the heart.

To effectively send out the right message and interpret the message we receive from a handshake, we need to prepare and practise.

In order to create a good impression, we also need to prepare ourselves both physically and mentally, and consider giving space to the other person.

In business, every minute counts, so even a handshake is of great importance as it can allow you to gather a lot of information through the first contact.

It may even help you to make important decisions.

Of course, handshaking is by no means a form of fortune telling, and should be viewed in totality with the other party's body language.

But just having a good handshake, and knowing what it means, can help set you apart, and let you succeed in your working and personal life.

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