How to shake hands properly

You might not think shaking hands is a vital business skill, but communications consultant Mark Jeffries used it as the basis for an entire book (called, predictably enough, What’s Up With Your Handshake? Speaking at the Cognos Forum on the Gold Coast today, Jeffries argued that the handshake creates a vital first impression: “We notice handshakes that go wrong. If your first impression is off a little bit, you’ll feel it and your game goes down, and they’ll feel it and your perception goes down.” A damp handshake is always unpleasant, and people who shake for too long might be better avoided, warns Jeffries: “They don’t care that you’ve finished shaking hands. They have no interest in your agenda. This means potentially that this person likes to do business their way. They may not be a good partner for your business.” So how do you get it right? Here’s Jeffries’ simple advice; “What is the ideal duration of a normal handshake? The answer: Two seconds. One, two, then let go.” And have a firm grip that extends fully into the other person’s hand, but don’t inflict injury in the process. If you constantly sweat, wash your hands with cold water in the bathroom before hitting a networking event — the lower temperature will reduce clamminess.


  • I still remember my first job after finishing Uni. I met everyone in the office on my first day, but the only one I remember is the guy with the wet fish handshake (eewwwwww!). Perhaps being remembered is better in the long term than making a good impression??

  • Kirsti, yes, you want to be remembered – but not for a gross-out moment! My point is that even tiny things can tilt you off balance in the eyes of others. I am sure your memory of that wet fish handshake is not a positive one and, for that person, the fact that you STILL remember it, is not good!!

  • A whole book on handshaking? Perhaps you should follow up with a book on how to fleece people with books on subjects that don’t need more than one sentence?

    Firm grip, dry hands, two seconds, look other bloke in the eye while doing it and saying a clear and audible greeting.

    That will be $20 please…

  • Citizend, For your kind consideration, “What’s up with your handshake” is a toolbox of innovative communication and persuasion techniques designed to elevate your success in the business and social world. The “handshake” in the title is merely a metaphor for the power and potential of that first impression. The book also features a useful section on the risks of jumping to conclusions!!

  • The strangest type of handshake is what I call the ‘English gentleman’s’ (I don’t really want to touch your dirty hand old boy), contact is only made with the finger and thumb tips, not the whole hand.

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