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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

                More by this author

                Brian Lee

                Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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                Last Updated on March 22, 2019

                How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

                How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

                When we talk about happiness, we think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity.  We try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as our goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from us.

                But what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?  It’s like your favorite food.  The more you have of it doesn’t always mean the better.  On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite of it.  So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

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                We should always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

                Video Summary

                Assuming others are always happy is the biggest misunderstanding of happiness.

                Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time.  Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales.  On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives (including ourselves).  So it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

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                In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

                No one has a perfect life.  Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires, everyone has their own set of challenges and problems.

                When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve.  As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time.  During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals.  But I got through them, and weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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                You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.   Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

                Stop trying to be happy. Just be.

                It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.  So what can we do?  First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness.  Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect.  It’s from experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing the same trials.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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                To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.  It sounds like a paradox.  What I mean is, accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life.  Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

                Understand the importance of gratitude.  Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you had or didn’t have something.  I like to think about my career, for example.  When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated.  I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me.  But when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful!  This memory keeps me going when there are tough spots.  It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

                Happiness and sadness exist together

                What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments.  Happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories.  But your life will also be filled with rain and storms that don’t ever seem to pass when you’re going through them.

                But whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.  Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones.  Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”.  In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements.  Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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