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The Perfect Handshake

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On an average, it is estimated that an individual will shakehands 15000 in their lifetime and yet, 70% of the surveyed population said they lacked confidence when it came to performing the gesture, according to a survey at the car making firm, Chevrolet.

Professor Geoffrey Beattie, head of psychological sciences at the University of Manchester, has devised "The Perfect Handshake" taking into account 12 key measures - such as vigour, eye contact, hand temperature, positioning and length - needed to convey respect and trust to the recipient.

Degree of Firmness

Your grip should be firm, rather than weak. However, you don’t want your handshake to be
painful to the other person. Consideration is appreciated. Be especially considerate if you are
shaking hands with someone in a receiving line who has many more hands to shake, someone who is wearing a lot of rings, or someone who is obviously elderly and perhaps fragile.

Dryness of Hand

We all prefer to shake a hand that is dry. While you typically don’t want to obviously dry your hands before greeting someone, this is perfectly acceptable if you have been holding a cold glass. Similarly, if you are at the buffet table and have been eating, it is expected that you will wipe your hand on your napkin before extending it to be shaken.

Depth of Grip

A handshake is palm to palm. Generally you will place your hand so that the web between your thumb and forefinger meets the web of the other person’s hand, briefly. Your hand remains perpendicular. If your palm is facing up, this may be construed as a sign of submissiveness. If your palm is on top, it can be seen as a sign of aggression.

Duration of Grip

The perfect handshake is about three seconds. You can gently pump once or twice, but this is not necessary. Then pull back your hand, even if you are still talking.

Eye Contact

While this will vary from culture to culture, in North America we expect the person shaking our hand to make eye contact with us as a sign of respect.


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