Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pet peeve: Weak handshakes

Image from here

Research shows that it takes between 3 and 90 seconds for an individual to form a first impression of someone. After that, other information presented is filtered through this initial impression. Prejudiced? Maybe. But we all do it. As the saying goes "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."

What can influence this first impression? This brings me to the subject of this post: the importance of a firm handshake. Having a firm handshake is vital to making a good first impression, and communicates professionalism and confidence as research out of the University of Alabama has shown (Chaplin, 2001, see a basic version here). Men and women with firm handshakes are evaluated more positively than those with limp handshakes and are seen to be more extroverted and open. Some may argue that emphasising handshakes as important promotes males as dominant in the business world, however, Chaplin's research demonstrated that women with firm handshakes were evaluated as positively as men.

Pet peeve: I think that this research can be generalised to a certain extent outside the business world. I cannot stand being introduced to someone, offering my hand to shake theirs and finding that they are a) surprised or even laugh and b) they offer a pathetically limp version of a shake, with no eye contact. I interpret this as being rude and occasionally arrogant.
I find this to be particularly common in late teens/twenty something hipster boys and girls, maybe trying to come across as cool or cute? It doesn't. I understand that in some situations an individual may simply be shy, but it is worth remembering that an impression is being formed and putting in the effort to make a polite greeting. Practicing is important.

Here are some tips:

1. MAKE EYE CONTACT. I cannot stress this enough, I could devote a blog to this but no-one would read it but me :)

2. Offer a firm handshake. Extend your hand and grip the other person's hand where the web of your thumbs meet for 3-4 seconds, while shaking the hand. The handshake should end before the introduction.

3. Offer a handshake whenever you:
a) Meet someone for the first time
b) Begin or end a meeting
c) Complete a business transaction
d) Leave a social or professional event
(clearly these are context dependent)

Practice makes perfect!

What is your opinion of weak handshakes? Is it rude or does it not matter?


Bovrilburger said...

Whoah, profesh! Sif write this for free - magazines love this shit!! A nigga gotta get paid!

Miss J said...

I 100% agree with you:) A firm and good handshake is essentual to get ahead in this world. Even if we like to think it doesn't matter, it definatly does!
I really go out of my way to make eye contact and give a good handshake. Something very important to me because I would like the same from other people:) hehe I'm ranting.

jillian-anne said...

haha thanks miss J! I like to rant sometimes!!! Creedz, I'm not sure a magazine would be interested in my ranting :p

drollgirl said...

DUDE! YOU ARE SO RIGHT!! limp handshakes are pretty much revolting. i remembered hearing about the horror of limp handshakes when i was a kid, and i started practicing. you gotta get it right. and if i can do it, anybody can!

Slices of Beauty... said...

Beautiful advice, works for both business and personal.

Lovely blog.

jillian-anne said...

haha drollgirl, my dad made me practice when i was a kid too!

thank you so much slices of beauty!

Emily said...

From an early age I was taught to greet people with firm handshakes. It irks me a little when I offer a handshake and its either shrugged off or returned weakly. It seems that polite greetings are falling by the wayside.

Also, thank you for signing up to participate in the Pay it Forward project! :) I will email you soon.

Mindy said...

I agree! I am tiny and I love the look on people's faces when they first meet me and then I give them a killer handshake.
What I do hate is when I meet someone and I try to shake their hand, and they move in for the hug and cheek kiss- how akward.