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How to Deliver a Handshake That Makes People Remember You

How to Deliver a Handshake That Makes People Remember You

Of all the kinds of greetings, I love handshakes the most. A great handshake can convey your warmth and strength. It can show the other person that you are supportive and trustworthy. A great handshake sticks with me–even if I only met the person who gave it once.

Neuroscientists confirm a good handshake makes a lasting impression

Whether we’re networking for business or meeting someone at a social function for the first time, rendering a proper handshake is a great way to make a first impression.

In ancient times, the handshake was a way for people to show that they were unarmed.[1] Just like today, a handshake conveyed a willingness on the part of both parties to have a safe and productive conversation.

In business, we shake hands all the time. Unlike many body language cues that we analyze when we meet someone for the first time, the handshake involves physical contact. The way that you shake hands with someone, and the way that you reciprocate, communicates volumes about the interactions to follow.

Neuroscientists have confirmed that a proper handshake has the power to promote positivity between people engaging in the behavior as well as observers.[2] A confident handshake increases a person’s interest in the interaction, reduces negative associations, and communicates on a deeper level than a verbal exchange.[3]

The worst handshakes I received

We’ve been making deals and solidifying agreements with handshakes for centuries, but that doesn’t mean that we always get it right. Handshake etiquette is rarely formally taught, but most of us can tell the difference between a good one and a bad one.

I distinctly remember shaking hands with a nervous gentleman at a conference. His palm was clammy and cold, and his hand flopped like a dead fish. Without saying a word, I could tell that he was uneasy about the situation.

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On the opposite end of the handshake spectrum, my father’s coworker once shook my hand with such force that I thought he might actually crush the tiny bones in my hand. From the context, I knew that he was just a strong personality asserting himself, but in other contexts this could be seen as a show of force.

Handshakes are not always friendly gestures. In some cases, they are power plays in which an aggressive grip serves as a way to manipulate another person into listening or submitting.

Initiating a handshake makes people feel that you’re confident

    The initiator of the gesture demonstrates confidence. Normally, the person with more power will initiate the handshake. If you wish to show respect to the person you are meeting, you may wish to wait for them to begin the motion.

    When you are at a job interview or you are about to engage in a negotiation, you can let others know that you are a confident person by extending your hand first. For an audience that is more conservative or one which the individual is of much higher status than you, it’s better to wait to show that person respect.

    Mimic the other person’s body language

    In most cases, the gesture is meant to promote positive feelings, but it can also be used as a form of social posturing. During political meetings especially, one party will attempt to show their dominance over another by using an aggressive or controlling handshake.

    The handshake between U.S. President, Donald Trump and the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is a great example of a handshake being used as a power play.

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      Donald Trump is well known for his unusual manner of shaking hands, and recipients have different ways of responding to the situation.[4] In the case of the Trump and Trudeau handshake, Trump began by placing his hand on Trudeau’s shoulder. Trudeau mirrored this action, which is proper handshake etiquette.

      The handshake didn’t end there, though. Trump’s signature handshake involves jerking the other party toward him. When Trump pulled Trudeau toward him, he resisted with the hand that rested on Trump’s shoulder. Trudeau mimicked the body language up until it became too domineering, at which point he stood his ground. Trudeau gained international respect by handling a potentially awkward moment with grace and maintaining a balance of power in the exchange.

      Offer a trustworthy greeting using the double-handed method

      There are many nuanced ways to shake hands, but if you want to show that you’re trustworthy, give a two-handed handshake.

      This maneuver isn’t appropriate for every situation. If you are meeting someone for the first time, a double-hander can seem too intimate. After you’ve had some time to form an emotional bond with the person, you can use this technique.

        This two-handed approach says, “I’m trustworthy,” because it doubles the amount of physical contact that you have with the other person. On a more primitive level, extending both hands shows the other person that you can’t hide any weapons and there’s no hidden danger in your gesture.

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          Former First Lady, Michelle Obama shakes hands with Queen Elizabeth II. Mrs. Obama is using the two-handed shake method, which conveys warmth and trust. Michelle leans forward slightly to accommodate their height difference and show that she is committed to the gesture.

          Stand to the left to look more powerful

          So much of our body language comes down to our physical placement in a space. If you wish to look more powerful in front of a group of people or during a photo opportunity, stand to the left side.

          The person on the left will always be perceived as more dominant than the person on the right. When you stand to the left, it is easier for you take the upper hand in the handshake. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should assert that power, but the opportunity is there for you. The person on the left almost always looks like they’re in control of the gesture.

            This shot of Brad Pitt shaking hands with former Secretary of State John Kerry shows how easily the person on the left could assert too much control over then handshake. Pitt’s hand is in the dominant position, and if he wished to express his power, he could easily do so.

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              During this meeting between then-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger and George W. Bush, former President of the United States, the governor is shown on the left even though the president outranks him. The body language of this handshake indicates mutual respect.

              Make your palm vertical if you want to make both of you equal

                Even though the handshake is a brief interaction, each person can pass a great deal of information to the other through it. It’s important to pay attention to the small details so that the other person can read your intent.

                For example, to ensure that the two-handed gesture conveys equality and respect for the other person, be sure that you keep both palms in a vertical position.

                When one person’s palm faces downward in a handshake, it means that the person has the upper hand and is taking control. The upward facing palm is submissive in this exchange. The person with the downward-facing hand can push the submissive hand down even more if the person is trying to assert dominance. When both palms remain vertical, it sends the message that you are both on equal ground.

                Change the pressure to accommodate the other person

                Be firm and assertive with the amount of pressure that you use, but avoid gripping too hard. If the other person’s grip seems weaker than yours, decrease how firmly you grasp that hand. When the opposite happens, increase your grip strength and pressure so that you are not perceived as weak.

                This doesn’t mean that you have to replace your strong handshake for a weak one, or vice versa, but if the grip strengths remain unequal, it can tell the other person a lot about you. Do your best to match the level of pressure that you receive.

                A good handshake sets the stage

                This silent form of communication can tell another person a lot about your motives and intentions. Practicing good handshake etiquette can initiate positive relationships that live well beyond the few seconds in which the exchange takes place. An excellent handshake can leave an impression that lasts a lifetime.

                Reference

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                Brian Lee

                Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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                Last Updated on November 18, 2020

                Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering

                Life Is Pain: Why a Life Without Pain Guarantees True Suffering

                No one wants to suffer, but it’s generally accepted that life is pain. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

                People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains, and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

                But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

                If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared in the early stages.

                Without the feeling of pain, people wouldn’t be aware of dangerous situations—what they should or shouldn’t do for survival. The fact that life is pain is ultimately a good thing for all of us, and here’s why.

                Why Is Life So Painful?

                Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

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                In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

                Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

                While the cliché, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadness— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on when life is pain.

                Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently, but it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example; anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

                No Pain, No Happiness

                You only know happiness when you have known life is pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

                In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all.

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                Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

                In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

                This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

                Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

                Life is pain, and pain is inevitable, so embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfection; and perfection guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

                This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

                Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

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                Allow Room for the Inevitable

                Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

                Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurt. There’s a saying,

                “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

                Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry, and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex-boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

                The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way instead of seeing things in black and white. 

                How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

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                While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future when you see that life is pain.

                You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

                Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

                Why does life hurt? Hopefully now you realize that physical and emotional pain may not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

                To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. It is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future, or at least cope a little more easily when life is pain.

                You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things.

                The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then, take a deep breath and start learning from that pain.

                More on Dealing With Difficulties

                Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
                [2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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