In the westernized business environment, it has become commonplace for women to shake hands with clients and associates. This also can extend in the social environment, depending on the situation.
Women can have a tendency to offer a very limp handshake, or otherwise behave like Sumo wrestlers. This makes it very important for a lady to learn how to shake hands in a way which does not make the other person feel uncomfortable. After all, one of the main objectives of becoming a lady is to present yourself to the world in a way which is pleasing and not confrontational. By being in harmony with the world around us, we connect to the feminine harmony within ones self as we bring a sense of peace to all that we do.
With this in mind, let’s have a little lesson on making sure that our handshake etiquette is appropriate, so that the recipient feels comfortable and can focus on what we are saying, rather than the way we shook (or didn’t shake) their hand.
If I sound a little melodramatic, let me tell you about something that happened a couple of days ago. I was introduced to a woman who was a lawyer. This was a business setting and it was important for me to trust in her ability. When she took my hand, she only placed a couple of fingers lightly into my hand. I’m sure that what she said after that was very intelligent, but I couldn’t tell you, because I was too busy trying to work out why this professional woman was afraid to meet me as an equal. If she was not able to shake my hand, how did this affect her relationship with male clients and colleagues? Was she expecting someone to kiss her hand? Did she think that she was being feminine by refusing to match my handshake? Was she afraid of me? I really don’t know the answer to this question, but what I did learn is that when certain things are out of balance, it is really hard to focus on the conversation. To me, her refusal to shake hands properly was equivalent to my saying ‘Hello!’ and her running off to hide in a corner.
Some women believe that a prissy handshake presents an air of femininity, but I hope that I have made it clear that making people uncomfortable does nothing more than leave people feeling uncomfortable.
How to shake hands
So, let’s move on and learn how to make people feel comfortable when we shake hands. Interestingly, it is based on a lot of animal instinct.
- Decide whether you are going to shake or not – Don’t muck about here. If you are going to shake hands, step forward for the handshake immediately. If you wait until you are offered a hand, you may be waiting a long time.
- Make eye contact and smile – Eye contact removes the threat that you may be a predator. Let them see your eyes and your smile so that they can know that you are not a danger to them.
- Extend your hand fully in front of you (thumb at 45%, fingers together) – This shows that you hold no weapon.
- Speak – Tell them that is it nice to meet them (and say their name if you know it). This says “I come in peace”.
- Palm to palm – Don’t give a handshake which says “I am too afraid to link hands with you. I must be ready to extricate myself”. Commit to the handshake fully.
- Let your hands link together and do the ‘up-down’ shake – just a few inches up and a few down. Match the other persons grip strength. You’ll come across a hard grip every now and again, but experience will tell you what is normal. This says “We are equals”
- Slowly release your grip – Let the grip fall away in a natural way. This says “I enjoyed that, and I don’t need to pull away quickly”.
The Body Language
That’s an awful lot of communication is just one handshake, isn’t it!
- “I am no threat”
- “I bear no weapons”
- “I come in peace”
- “I embrace you fully”
- “We are equals”
- “I am happy to have met you”
These are all important subliminal messages that can give to our fellow humans in just one little handshake.
Consideration for different religious and cultural practices
Muslim women are forbidden to shake the hands of a man to which they are not related. We respect all religions and cultures and rest assured that such a lady will have her own way to make her acquaintances feel welcome.
How do you shake hands?
Share your experiences in the comments section below