The forgotten art of shaking hands

A good handshake is vital on formal social occasions, as well as in business It reveals a lot of telling information about you in a very small space of time via the power of touch

Remember that in simian psychology the sticking out of the hand is a gesture of accepted vulnerability It's like a signal of submission, used to end conflict and create bonds An ape will be offering its hand to be bitten off by the dominant ape You don't need to take things this far, but using your handshake as a signal of power or dominance is clearly silly It's performed to introduce less conflict and more rapport

Do you give good shake? Most people think they do, but most people also think others' handshakes are often lousy This contradiction suggests we're not as good as we think It's rare for anyone to be taught to shake, yet it's such a vital form of communication and you'll fall at the first hurdle if your shake is a shocker . Here's how to shake hands well:

I Who shakes hands in business? Everyone, apart from those with cultural differences This isn't only a sport for men I still meet business people who suspect it might be a guy thing, though

I Who extends their hand first in business or social greetings? The host. Period. It matters not who is higher or lower status If you're a servant greeting God you still put your hand out first

I To create seamless shaking choreography, always extend your hand from a distance of about six feet This is what's called an intentional gesture and warns the other person what's coming

I When you walk into a room or an office, always make sure your bag or anything else you're carrying is in your left hand so your right is free to shake with Transferring paperwork and mobiles at the last minute is not a good look and lets everyone know you weren't expecting to get a greeting

I Use names and introductions as you shake, plus eye contact and a smile.

I Keep the hands just below waist level as you shake.

I Make sure your own hand is dry and cool. If you suffer with sweaty hands, use freshen-up wipes in the restroom before you make your entrance

I Never be seen wiping your hand before you offer it. This looks disgusting I Or after you've shaken, which implies you want to remove all traces of the other person's hand from your own, signaling revulsion

I Palm must touch against palm. Offering just your fingers is foul . Put your hand out in the vertical position. Extending it horizontally is a relic from the past that comes under the heading "power pumping . " Getting your hand on top in the shake doesn't make you alpha, it makes you a nerd I Shake up and down about three times .

Remember, handshaking is about the only form of touch permissible in business, so make the most of it by showing enthusiasm . Never back away as you shake or offer a limp hand that feels like a dead fish

However, avoid the cruncher, too . Think firm but not crushing . Apathy shows weakness but too much enthusiasm can be just as bad if it includes the use of pain to make your point

Greeting rituals are full of hidden meaning . Any added touch, patting, or prolonged shaking will all register subliminal signals about closeness, enmity, status, and so on . Shaking and adding an arm-pat below elbow level will register you're extra pleased to see the other person

Patting above elbow level creeps into the power-pat remit, looking like a friendly attempt to register control . Higher pats will signal a more obvious show of the same . Grabbing the one hand in two of your own is known as the hand-sandwich. This is also ultra friendly on the surface, but it renders the victim helpless by trapping him or her, so it can have sinister overtones . It must seem spontaneous otherwise it will appear cheesy in the extreme . It's also useful to vary your shake in a group where you have mixed experience I was recently introduced to some strangers at work, but in the group there was one guy I knew slightly and another I knew very well To offer the same rather formal shake all around would have looked odd, so I added an extra squeeze or arm-touch to the two I already knew

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