A handshake is the first step to build a lasting relation, and it is important to get it right. When we shake hand, we make physical and eye contact with our interlocutors, and we should learn why it matters so much as this is the first step towards building trust. Handshakes tend to be more natural for emotional intelligent people, as these folks have high self and social awareness, and they use it to their advantage. Learn from them, as they are very effective at reading the room, and finding the best time to reach out for a handshake.
An effective handshake starts with an engaging eye contact followed by a firm handshake and a smile. Firm and short but not too firm as that can make your interlocutor uncomfortable. When hand contact is made, a verbal expression should follow expressing pleasure for making the new acquaintance. Smiling throughout the entire process will makes the connection more meaningful. Don’t leave the room without saying goodbye to the new people you met and shake hands again if you can. And don’t stress out if you don’t remember the names of the people met.
The handshakes I hate are those that don’t happen. These are the ones, where people don’t reciprocate and they often happen in crowded gathering, where it is easier to get away with rudeness. Guess what, that is ok. Own the failed handshake, stand tall, smile, and walk away politely. It takes strength and courage to accept rejection. Get used to it, as this is the quickest way to become invincible.
Be always the first to reach out for a handshake and do it decisively and make your engagement intentions clear. If not reciprocated, move on, and don’t waste a minute torturing yourself about this un-rewarding event. If you absolutely want to retaliate, do it with elegance and call the person out and saying something like “you don’t like handshakes ah?”
What about Covid and the mental damage?
Since the time of Covid with all the mental damage caused, handshakes have become more challenging. Many people avoid any kind physical contact to avoid health risk. While this may sound excessive, it should be respected and accepted. If handshake is not possible, seek a lighter, respectful, and less intrusive and natural physical contact which could be a simple tap in the shoulder. When physical contact is not recommendable, or not viable at all, use your emotional intelligence to connect. Listen carefully to the person you are engaging and show interest and enthusiasm without interrupting. Silence is a powerful weapon you can use to your advantage.
And don’t forget that “the loudest person in the room is the weakest person the room” as stated by Jack Lucas in American Gangster, impersonated by Denzel Washington.