Do your staff need handshake lessons?

by Insurance Business 05 May 2018

Do your staff need handshake lessons?

The US President’s odd handshake technique should be a wake-up call to all professionals about the importance of a great handshake, an etiquette expert says

Greeting Donald Trump has become a power struggle in itself, because of his tendency to suddenly tug others towards himself in an effort to demonstrate control – prompting leaders like Justin Trudeau to place their left hand on Trump’s shoulder to stop being pulled.

Trump wasn’t always that way: for decades, Trump – a self-confessed germaphobe – was notably anti-handshake.

His change of heart should be a lesson to professionals and companies about why a proper handshake matters, says Julie Blais Comeau, chief etiquette officer at EtiquetteJulie.com.

“People will judge us, whether we like it or not, on first impressions.”

Yet few businesses provide etiquette training – instead leaving their staff to wing it. Blais Comeau suggests they should call in an expert for help.

“You only have one chance to make a good first impression, and the handshake is one of the elements that contributes to a positive impression that can send out confidence and credibility.”

Here, she shares her “seven Ss” of a great handshake:

  1. Stand up: “You should always stand up, unless there is a mobility impairment or something like that, or there’s an obstacle in the way.”
  2. Smile: “It’s the universal symbol of friendliness, of welcoming, in any language.”
  3. Show the palm of your hand: “Show that you’re open, at their service, as opposed to coming down with the palm under.”
  4. Straighten your thumb: “Whenever you come in for that handshake, when your thumb is sideways, to the left, or even at a 45-degree angle, you’re going to miss it.”
  5. Steady eye contact: “Look into the person’s eyes. Make contact with them. [However] in certain cultures, sustained eye contact should be avoided or could be uncomfortable for some people.”
  6. Shake a couple of times: “That’s usually up and down.”
  7. Slip free.

And, Blais Comeau adds, if you’re at a cocktail or networking event, be sure to hold your drink in your left hand, because no one wants a cold, clammy handshake.