The Art of the Handshake

Be Prepared

In any environment where you’re meeting people, make sure your right hand is free —you don’t want to have to fumble at the last moment. Avoid holding a drink in your right hand, especially if it’s cold, as the condensation can make your hand feel clammy.

Consider Your Body Language

If you’re seated, always rise before shaking someone’s hand. If you’re standing, keep your hands out of your pockets—visible hands make you look more open and honest. Make eye contact and smile.

Shake It

Once full contact is made, lock your thumb down and squeeze firmly, about as much as your partner does. Shake from your elbow (not your wrist), about 2-3 pumps. Keep your handshake brief. The handshake should be approximately two to five seconds long.

Offer a Friendly Greeting as You Shake Hands

Your greeting should include his or her name and a pleasantry, such as, “It’s so nice to meet you, Ms. Jones.” In order to remember the other person’s name, you might want to say it several times during the conversation: once during the initial handshake, shortly afterward, and again while shaking hands before you part ways.


Finally, of the many handshake blunders people can make, let’s review a few of the worst offenders.

The Dead Fish

This one is perhaps the worst—a limp, lifeless hand extended and just barely shaken. It’s the type of handshake that can ruin a meeting before it even begins.

The Knuckle Cruncher

This grip may be a demonstration of machismo, but it could also be the result of a person genuinely unaware of his or her strength. Alternatively, some women have been taught that the stronger their grip, the more seriously they will be taken - and they clamp down as if their life depended on it.

The Fingerella or Finger-Tip Grab

Normally a female greeting –where just the fingers are given as a handshake. Women get it from outdated social expectations, when they were expected to shake hands softly.

The Two-Handed

I'll close this woeful list with the classic two-handed handshake (also known as The Politician’s Handshake) - when you feel your partner’s left hand closing in on your right hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, or neck. The only time this is OK is when the person you’re meeting is already a good friend.