How ‘First Impressions’ Are Influenced By Your Grip

When you greet people for the very first time, not only are they judging your personality and appearance, your handshake is also being assessed. “First impressions are lasting” is what we tend to say in agreement. Most of us weren’t explicitly told that it is also your handshake that influences how you are perceived, in relation to making a first impression.


The hand you use matters, your grip and the amount of time it takes for you to reach out to others in greeting. Whether you’re greeting your child’s teacher, a new colleague or a job  interviewer, your handshake reveals different things. A form of greeting, such as the way you shake hands, can communicate at least nine things about you to others. Depending on the handshake type, they are as follows:

    1. The Creative Handshake

Generally speaking, fist bumps or extravagant hand and body gestures aren’t appropriate for greeting someone in a professional setting. Accompany this with a “Yo”, or “What’s up?”, and you communicate that you are disrespectful, irreverent, and unprofessional. Credibility is lost. It is acceptable, however, to use this type of greeting only in informal settings with friends.

    2. The Politician’s Greeting

This handshake is when you place your other hand around the recipient’s while your palms are already locked. A somewhat ‘dominant’ move, but actually this demonstrates a sense of kindness. Covering the other person’s hand shows that you care about them, and also can convey trust and honesty.

hands people friends communication

    3. The Finger-Crusher

The opposite of a limp-lock, it can frustrate people. Gripping someone’s hand too tightly, makes you look over-bearing and controlling. It is a competitive handshake that puts you into an unofficial power struggle and that can be annoying, as well as uncomfortable. If the other person is arthritic, the pain can be excruciating.

    4. The Limp-Lock

The other person should not feel as though they have just been linked with a wet noodle. A weak handshake implies that you lack confidence and lack interest You appear timid. People may feel like you aren’t interested in meeting with them. That is a real deal-breaker in a job interview situation or when meeting potential political supporters.

    5. The Person Who Won’t Let Go

When you shake hands with someone, don’t hold it for too long. Hold palms for approximately- not 5 or 10- but 2 seconds. Then release your hand. Otherwise, it says that you are too clingy, desperate and needy.

group of people sitting indoors

    6. The Rush Job

Rushing through a handshake makes others feel like you don’t value them, while lingering exudes desperation. This handshake implies that you’re in a hurry, don’t have time, and therefore, you can’t be bothered to make that connection with the other person.

    7. Eye Contact Handshake

It is awkward to stare someone down while you lock palms, but don’t avoid eye contact completely, either. Gazing into someone’s eyes for too long makes you appear aggressive. However, looking away isn’t the ideal components of a greeting, for you may appear suspicious or insecure.

  8. The ‘Dominating One’

Avoid pumping someone’s palm too vigorously when you meet them. You may think it shows excitement, but makes the other person uncomfortable. Don’t flip the  person’s palm during the handshake so that yours lands on top, either. This is a subtle power move that is unnecessary unless you’re trying to exert control.

photo of man wearing brown sweater

    9. The Perfect Handshake

The right way to shake someone’s hand is really quite simple:

******Hold out your right hand, even if you’re a                 lefty, and stand up straight. Warmly smile                   as you look into the other person’s eyes.                       Greet them by their name or title. Shake                     their hand firmly but not aggressively, and                 hold the handshake for only about two[2]                   seconds.******

Though different handshakes each reveal different things about you to others, they will not demonstrate all that you are. You might not be a controlling or timid person, but by your initial greeting, these things are what you communicate.

Better to break the ice with honesty than be perceived as something you are not. If you are nervous, feel intimidated, or unsure of yourself in the presence of others, say so. Usually, the other person will reply with words aimed at relaxing you by changing your that which you may be feeling. Honesty, tactfully spoken, is best in almost all situations.

man and woman shaking hands

For Example:

You are about to meet an author, one of your idols, and you are terribly nervous. You feel unsure of yourself, and  are worried about how you may be perceived. Your palms are sweaty and you can’t seem to stop staring. With almost the same breath, as you extend your wet hand, begin something like this:

” It’s an honor to meet you. You are one of my most adored writers.” Almost immediately, without pause, and with sincerity, look at your locked hands and say,

” Please forgive my sweaty palms.. I am so nervous right now. I love you so much.”

Get the idea? Honesty.

Knowing that ‘clothes’ don’t really ‘make the man’, neatness counts, as does hygiene- never to be compromised, whether in sneakers and sweats or business suit with heels. As life sometimes does, impromptu meetings may occasionally catch us off-guard.

Think about ‘just in case’ moments when you may meet someone unexpectedly. These are your ‘what if‘ scenarios. You can practice with a friend, and ask for honest feedback on whether you convey your intended messages with your handshake. Consider the ‘audience’ and possible situations  you make the statement you intend, not an unintended one.

adult child daylight enjoyment

You can always communicate sincere interest, and demonstrate your respect and authenticity by just shaking someone’s hand. Handshakes can show interest, warmth and confidence, but on the flip side, can make you seem shy or controlling.

Don’t over-think yours. Just be mindful of what it may reveal about you the next time that you extend your hand to greet someone. First impressions can also be hard to shake, pardon the pun. Fortunately, they can be overcome, but better to get it right from the initial ‘Hello’. How do you shake hands and what do you want yours to say about you?




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