No, they aren’t yoga poses or wrestling terms.

There is nothing worse than a limp-fish handshake. Touching someone even briefly creates a human bond. Shaking hands has a long history of development. Supposedly it was to prove you had no weapons and wanted to show trust. Whatever the origins a handshake today is worth its weight in gold, (no idea how you are going to weigh a handshake). Shaking or not shaking someone’s hand shows a level of respect. In the western work world of business, a handshake is still a very important part of the deal. Just as not shaking someone’s hand can create a negative impression or bad will. It’s true that people will remember you more if you shake their hands. (I’m sure I can find a study on that).

Perfecting your handshake doesn’t take long but it is necessary. More than necessary, it’s mandatory. Both men and women are guilty of a lackluster handshake. The perfect handshake is purposeful, look them in the eye, extend your hand, thumb up, open your palm. Find the gentle 1-2-ish shake and then let go. Haphazard shakes met only halfway are a bit of an insult. Too long and they will look around for a quick exit and the Special Victims Unit. Perhaps you are shy and afraid to shake hands; well that’s why you are here, to learn confidence so you can give a respectable handshake whenever the opportunity occurs.

Shyness is not an excuse for a lack of confidence.

Overdoing it by squeezing or trying to overpower the other only makes you out to be an insecure bully. Timid dead fish shakes show a lack of self-assuredness. No matter who you are, if there is a shake about to happen then it is meant to happen. So grab the bull by the horns and hold on. That person wants to shake hands with you!

To bump or not to bump, that is the question. There is a new custom in town and you’ll show your age if you’ve not heard of a fist bump. I will out myself right now and say I am not down with fist-bumping. It just seems weird to me. But if that is the environment that you are in bump away baby. I would surmise that the same rules would apply, no half bumps, misdirected bumps whatever acknowledgment practice you subscribe to, do it will full presence and awareness. People can feel if you don’t mean it even before you touch.

Shaking hands is a cultural connection that we do to show trust, confidence, and openness. Pretty amazing for such a small gesture and you can see why I place so much importance on doing it correctly. I suggest really practicing your shake. Like a teenager doing his dance moves in the mirror before the big party. Find yourself a willing victim and try out different shakes.  Ask your shake-partner how each shake felt. Try thinking warm thoughts and see if they notice a difference. You can try thinking nasty thoughts and see if they feel that too but be sure to end with a happy shake. (I mean, why tempt karma)

This brings me to a pet peeve. Men often slight women when they shake hands. I don’t know if they are nervous or if there is some weird cultural juju at work but my experience has been 50% of the time I get a very weak hesitant shake from a man. Now, ladies, this does not let you off the hook. I have also experienced some weakly given handshakes from women. To sum it all up, it is your confident duty to offer a secure, friendly handshake, to all. A handshake is an equal opportunity employer. People will remember you, be more open to you, and feel included when you shake it right. They will also remember a lousy handshake and wonder if there is something wrong with them, or you.

Confidently shake, that is the only way.

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