Shaking hands with someone is a meaningless gesture or is it? In medieval Europe, when kings and knights would extend their hands to each other to demonstrate that they did not possess any weapons. That is no longer true or is it?
The handshake evolved over time as a welcoming sign of friendliness, hospitality and trust. It also can be part of secret orders, fraternities, and sororities. Most business people greet each other by shaking hands, important meetings start with a handshake and politicians shake hands with their constituents. What is it about shaking hands in business that makes it so important?
Shaking hands is symbolic of a binding agreement because of the physical contact and interaction of two people represents trust and reliance. At one time, you could rely on a person’s word and the handshake was the final sign of the agreement. Now we rely more on contracts and lawyers! We want detailed contracts to protect our interests or to sue the other party for breach. The “good old” days may was better because we relied on a person’s word and a handshake.
In the business world, the handshake is accepted as a way of greeting each other. Interviews begin and end with a handshake! Many a candidate is judged by their handshake! Was it firm? A weak handshake can be seen as a sign of weakness, insecurity or rudeness. That close proximity of two people is the beginning of a relationship. More business is conducted because of that close relationship. That may be the biggest reason why sales people still visit their clients although a great deal of business is conducted on-line and other high tech methods. Shaking hands can reveal your personality or much more.
When we meet people for the first time, we make judgments about people. Do we like you or respect you? A handshake is part of that judgment! We notice how someone shakes hands, it reflects a lot about your character, personality and how you want to be perceived. We use shaking hands for greeting someone, congratulations, a sign of good sportsmanship, gratitude, completing an agreement. Shaking hands is an important part of our social interaction.
In modern society, teenagers and young people have special handshakes! That is one of the ways; teenagers interact socially aside from texting, tweeting or email. It certainly belongs to them as much as a secret society with their special handshakes. Along with fraternities, the Boy Scouts have their special handshake. As they begin to grow up they will have to learn how to interact with adults and learn how to shake hands. Something so casual requires a firm handshake and eye contact.
Something so casual has so much importance! It creates a positive or negative impression in a couple of seconds! It is one of the first things a person notices right after they meet you. Is it something memorable? It should not stand out negatively either! A “limp” handshake will be remembered, and give a bad impression. A person with a good handshake is perceived as more outgoing and better interpersonal skills. You don’t want your handshake to stand out negatively! Other negative conclusions can be laziness, disinterest or socially awkward. What kind of first impression do you want to leave?
What should you do? When you meet someone for the first time, hold out your hand and give them a firm handshake. Shake their hand with just one up and down action and look them in the eye, smile, and don’t focus on the handshake itself. Rather, focus on introducing yourself. This is how we conduct business, interact socially and seek employment. It provides a first and lasting impression! What kind of impression do you leave?
Photo by: MissChatter