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A Rough Guide to Handshaking Today

The handshake is an incredibly recognisable form of greeting, with many variants and many meanings depending on how they’re conducted and their geographical location. Originally handshakes were a way of displaying to one another that both parties were unarmed, and thus trusting to each other, and this grew into the expression of equality it is often seen as today.  Now they’re a formality, but one which will lead you to being judged on their success.

So, what makes a good handshake?  Well if you’re in Europe or America, a firm handshake is expected – but not a vice like grip!!.  In Asia, a softer handshake is preferred.  Depending on the company you’re in, a kiss on the cheeks may proceed or succeed the handshake, or both parties may pat each other on the back or arm whilst shaking hands.  You’ll have to decide whether these things are appropriate for the environment, but there are some general rules.

1. Look into their eyes.  Making and holding eye contact with those you’re shaking hands with shows you’re confident and have nothing to hide.  It also shows an appropriate level of interest.

2. Hold their hand for three seconds.  This is a good amount of time to maintain physical contact and shows you’re not trying to escape, nor pursue.  If they want to break or lengthen the contact, let them.

3. Try to stand straight on to the person you are interacting with.  This openness is an indication of comfort.

4. Smile.  In all but the most earnest situation, smiling goes down well.  No one will take you less seriously if you smile – after all we all want someone to be pleased to meet us.

Some people shake hands every time they meet, others never shake hands.  This is very personal – never be offended by this.

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