Body Language #1: The Handshake

hand_shake‘Hi, I’m Joe, the DJ, we spoke over the phone earlier’. He was neatly dressed, clean shaven and had a confident smile. He approached Dan the Venue owner and extended his hand and … slump.. “That was awful” Dan thought! “This guys’ like a wet sponge, yet he looked and sounded so good. I don’t’ know if I can trust him or if he really has the confidence and energy to do the job.. eew”


When you attend your meeting you need a GOOD HANDSHAKE. It speaks volumes about your confidence, maturity and eagerness to be there.  So many people engage in limp, lacklustre handshakes, this does not give out an impression of confidence and maturity.

Here are a few ideas and suggestions on what can make the difference between a great professional handshake and a walking disaster. You will need to practice these suggestions with a friend or your spouse. Don’t practice on your clients though!



  1. As you approach your client, maintain EYE contact with them and SMILE. Don’t take the smile for granted and don’t look at their hand as you approach them.
  2. If you naturally have sweaty hands, dry it quickly on your pants or a napkin. It’s not a good feeling to shake a sweaty palm
  3. Take steps to move forward towards the other person as you are about to shake their hand. Don’t stand still and make them come all the way towards you to shake your hand. It sends a message of a power game, i.e. ‘I am more important than you, you will come to me, I won’t come to you’
  4. Keep your hand in a vertical position, don’t lean right or left
  5. Tuck your elbow in. Don’t let your elbow stick out like a chicken wing. It will look awkward otherwise and is a common mistake that young people make. This technique gives the handshake more energy and still makes it feel professional
  6. Don’t come into the handshake wide and don’t swing their hand back and forth moving your elbow vigorously. Keep your elbow movements to a minimum otherwise it feels childish and immature.
  7. Make sure that the web between your thumb and index finger connects with theirs. We know this might sound a bit pedantic, but crushing their fingers isn’t exactly going to give a positive impression. It gives a feeling of a deep energy and is the primary key to the handshake working well or not.
  8. Don’t hug or put your hand on their shoulder etc. Not for a first impression anyway. Don’t use a sandwich handshake (your left hand goes over their right hand)
  9. Once your hands meet, push your hand forward just a little bit. Don’t push too hard causing them to fall backwards as that will be awkward and pushy. Don’t keep your hand still in its position as again that gives the impression you’re holding back. It’s something you need to practice enough times before trying it out on a client. The forward push gives an impression of energy.
  10. Do not CRUSH their hand, do not try to hurt the other person. A FIRM handshake is important, but you should never squeeze too hard. No-one will remember you in a positive light as ‘the guy that crushed my hand when I first met them’. Watch their face for signs of pain, if you see that, YOU’RE SQUEEZING TOO HARD. On the other hand, make sure that you squeeze their hand a few millimetres and avoid a situation where they squeeze your hand and you leave yours limp.
  11. Move your hand up and down once or twice, NO MORE.
  12. l.      Let go after that, don’t hang on even if they do.


* References: Manager Tools LLC



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