Pointers on the Perfect Handshake


While at an event in a crowded room last week, it struck me how many people don’t know how to properly shake hands. There is an adage that people judge others in the first 12 – 20 seconds of meeting them. If so, the handshake is an important part of making “that first impression.” Yet, today, perhaps one person in four knows how to properly shake another’s hand.

The root of the problem is that people have not been taught for decades how to shake hands. There are generations of people who don’t know how to properly greet a person standing before them (and, no, it is not a fist pump). The hand shake is another item to add to the fading art of common courtesies.

For those who have never been instructed on handshakes, here are pointers on “the perfect handshake.”

  • Stand. Never shake someone’s hand while seated. Stand up and…
  • Look the person in the eye. Make eye contact while shaking the person’s hand.
  • Take hands out of your pockets – both of your hands!
  • Smile – not a goofy grin, but a genuine, disarming smile.
  • Extend your arm (don’t hold your elbow into your side) and offer your hand with thumb pointing up.
  • Wrap your fingers around the other’ person’s hand and rest your thumb down – and touch palms. In other words, make full body contact.
  • Squeeze firmly – no dead, slippery fish – and no Iron Man Grip. The rule on one’s grip is to respond in kind to the other’s grip (that is unless they just given you a slippery fish – then try to catch it and it’s absolutely alright to flash them a goofy fishman’s grin).
  • Pump 3-5 times and then release. Allow your hand to fall naturally to your side, adjust your footing and stature.


Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted can-do EA or go-to writer? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.



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