Never underestimate the impact of a handshake. Below is a brief guide to giving basic handshakes as well as interpreting others' handshakes.
If you are interested, there are also many common Advanced Handshakes the people use.
There are a few things to keep in mind when shaking someone hand for the first time under normal circumstances.
- Use a firm grip - This does not mean crush the other person's hand to a pulp, nor does it mean forget your hand has muscles, a good hand shake lies somewhere in between. There should be light pressure, and it should not induce pain for the other person (unless you're trying to intimidate them, then that's a whole other ball game.
- Just one shake - A normal handshake is one simple down-up-down motion, nothing fancy. If you shake their hand more than that and especially if you use two hands, you might appear overeager. If you do not shake at all and just stick your hand out, you're just showing a lack of interest in the other person. Even if it's quick, a small motion is important for a rushed handshake.
- Make eye contact - Hand shakes are not only about the physical contact, they are about creating a relationship with another person. The eyes are the gateway to the soul as they say, so make that eye contact to signal that you are actually interested in that person (even if you are not).
- Say something - This is more general because you'll have to adjust to the situation. The most common thing to say is of course "nice to meet you" but if it has not been done already, introducing yourself as "Hello, my name is So-and-so" works as well.
- Smile - You want the other person to think you are happy to be meeting them. If this is not the case, a fake smile is recommended so they do not catch on.
Once you appreciate how much can go into a handshake, the way other people shake your hand will leave a larger impression.
- Attitude behind the grip - The strength of a persons grip is traditionally a measure of a persons confidence.
- No grip = Unconfident
- Firm = Confident
- Crushing = Overconfident
- Shaking rhythm - This typically gives some insight into a person's eagerness.
- Slow = Mellow
- Medium = Normal
- Fast = Eager
- Eye contact interest - Pretty self explanatory and intuitive, if they look at you, they're interested, otherwise they are not.
Beyond these points, you are on your own for interpreting facial, verbal and body language, but those are not unique to handshakes.