When I started this blog I explained that I would write about my “B2B” moments – or “Brienne to Brienne” moments. The whole point of the “B2B” moment is to let you, my readers, in on what my brain is thinking on a specific topic. Pretty much, it is a way for me to talk to myself, without feeling like I’m going crazy (ha).
Today, I’ve been thinking about handshakes. It is so important for people to know how to give a proper handshake. There is nothing worse than shaking someone’s hand and receiving a weak, or half-handed shake.
You can tell a lot about a person through their handshake. It is generally assumed that if you have a strong handshake, you are an assertive, confident person. If you have a weak handshake, you are considered shy and reserved. All of that aside, I personally do not like a weak handshake because I see it as uninterested and (honestly) unconfident. If you are going to shake my hand, shake it with vigor (but not too much…). If you do not have a strong handshake, then I assume that you are not serious about our conversation, or are disinterested in me (if we just met); that’s not the kind of impression you want to leave, is it?
Your Handshake Creates a Connection
Your handshake represents certain personality traits. When you shake someone’s hand, you are engaging him or her on both a personal and physical level. Handshakes can be a polite, albeit, more formal way to say “hello”, it is the way to seal a deal, as well as a sign of respect. Eye contact is also of paramount importance when shaking someone’s hand. Eye contact tells the person that you are present in the conversation and respect them.
A Study to Back Up My “B2B” Moment
University of Alabama psychologists William F. Chaplin et al published in 2000 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The subjects in the study were introduced to four different “handshake judges” in a way that made it seem natural that they would be greeted with a handshake. After the handshake introduction, the participants were given a set of personality tests, measuring whether or not their handshakes reflected their personality traits.
Before the study, the judges practiced enough to be able to distinguish eight different handshake characteristics: completeness of grip, temperature, dryness, strength, duration, vigor, texture, and eye contact.
The handshakes were not distinct enough to allow the judges to determine a direct correlation between the handshake and the individual’s personality traits, but the judges did form consistent impressions of the people whose hands they shook. The judges were able to agree on what handshake conveyed a “good impression” or a “poor impression.”
Overall it’s about perception. You might “know” that you are confident and outgoing, but if your handshake does not exude that, than your inward confidence means nothing.
Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D. accurately described that a “ ‘firm handshake’ corresponded to the measured personality factors, what they found is that it does correlate with factors such as “openness to new experience” and extraversion. Those who did not have a ‘firm handshake’ were found to score higher on measures of “neuroticism” (which means that they tend to be more prone to anxiety) and to display more “shyness.” In other words, from your handshake, people can learn whether or not you are shy and anxious, and whether you are ‘open’ and outgoing.”
Women vs. Men
First impressions for men and women varied slightly in the study. Women with a firm handshake were viewed as more “open,” and made positive impression. Many times, it is assumed that a woman who is strong is also abrasive and domineering (unladylike). The study showed that women with a firm handshake were considered strong, and not judged for appearing confident.
As for men, the correlation between a strong handshake and the judge’s perception of the participants being strong and confident was not as evident (perhaps because it is assumed that men should, and will, have a strong handshake?). For both genders, a weak handshake tends to generate less favourable impressions.
Overall, it is extremely important to have a strong and confident handshake. Your handshake speaks of who you are. It can either tell the person that you are a confident person, or lacking confidence; and in the business world, no one wants to work with an unconfident person. If you are unconfident in the “good times” (while striking a deal, or solidifying partnerships), how will you conduct your self in the tough times?
by Brienne Torley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.