7 Tips to Improve Your Handshake
“Interviewers clearly want people who have the right skills and credentials. However, in this market, lots of folks have both. So how do you differentiate yourself?” asks Cynthia Burnham, America’s top charisma coach, and author of ‘The Charisma Edge.’ “Your positive, confident, personal presence – your charisma – can be the deciding factor that gets you the job you want. And some of that charisma is carried in your handshake.
Do You Have A Great Handshake? How Do You Know?
Burnham says that for job seekers, your handshake merits a separate focus all its own. Most people have no sense of their own handshake, or how critical it is. Scientific studies have shown the importance of handshakes in making a positive first impression. The University of Iowa conducted a study related to job applicants that found, “Quality of handshake was related to interviewer hiring recommendations…even after controlling for differences in candidate physical appearance and dress.” Burnham shares seven tips for an appropriately powerful handshake:
- “L” your handshake. The “L” – the angle where your thumb and forefinger meet – should lock into the L of the other person’s hand, allowing you a complete grip, palm-to-palm, with your fingers wrapped around the other person’s hand. No half-handed, or fingers-only handshakes.
- Know your own strength. Don’t assume you know what is right. Practice, and ask more experienced people if your handshake is too weak or too strong. Find someone who’ll allow you to hold the position and change pressure until you find the right balance of strong but not painful. Check with several people to find a good average pressure.
- Look them in the eye. Look at your partner’s face before you shake hands with them, not at their hand. Let peripheral vision take charge of the “aim.” You won’t miss. And smile.
- Hold your eye contact one tiny extra beat. Stay focused from pre-handshake to post-release. Looking at their face will help you connect with, and remember them.
- If you have cold or damp hands, keep your hand in your pocket before shaking hands. If you have time, rub your palms together and blow on your fingers. If you have sweaty palms, keep a handkerchief handy – tissue may shred – or even consider coating one hand with spray antiperspirant when you know you are going to have a lot of shaking to do.
- Minimize your pain. Don’t wear a ring on your right hand. Rings crunch your fingers if you meet a power bruiser handshake. (Grimacing is generally not charismatic.)
- Keep it simple. No double handshakes, handshakes with elbow grabs. Fancy handshakes can appear overly friendly, overly earnest and inauthentic.