What’s in a Handshake?

Written by Humintell Affiliate Christian Andrada

It could be argued that no nonverbal act generates as much impact as a handshake. A handshake is often enough to determine your competitive position against another person, your negotiating style, and how you relate to the world.

Historically the handshake has transcended cultures and times. It has always been conceived as a ceremonial act that opens the possibility of dialogue between two people who are just getting to know each other. It also persists as a method of social exchange that legitimizes the existence of a link, a sign of health, survival, security, demonstration of feelings and of course, social harmony.

A handshake is a common gesture, but not universal. In some cultures, particularly around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, it is preferable to greet with a hug or a kiss without touching the cheek, especially between good friends. In other areas such as Asia, they prefer a strong handshake that moves up and down in a short time with hands upright. However in the Middle East, you can not shake hands with a woman unless she is who offers, even in the business context. Regarding Latin America, there are some variations by country, but in all places a handshake is conceived a ceremonial act and reveals good manners and education.

With a handshake, in a few seconds we show how we want to be perceived and what we perceive from others, which can be decisive in an employment relationship, or in an interview or businesses setting. If you want manage your handshake and to be able to communicate effectively, is necessary to consider some variables:

  • The spatial distance to whom the greeting is done: intimate, personal or social.
  • Balance: equal distance (handshake) from one another, or closer to either of them.
  • Hand angle: Perpendicular and horizontal to the ground.
  • Hand grip strength: From the classic “fish handshake “to ” knuckle-crushing handshake”
  • Handshake time: From the first contact to stay greeting for more than 10 seconds.
  • Eye contact: can be in social or intimate depending on context.

We must keep in mind the way you greet someone is a sure sign about your personality. It is a problem if you do not modify or adapt your greeting according to the circumstances and your purpose.  The next time you greet to someone, keep in mind that you will say more about you than you could control.

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