3. The squeezing handshake
In his book "The Joy of Selling," J.T. Auer describes the messages people get about you from different types of handshakes:
1. The flabby handshake
The limp handshake communicates pessimism and negativity. You are a dud, the kind of person others do not want to have around.
2. The prison handshake
The person holds your hand too long and won't give it back. He's after something, and you'd better be on your guard.
You play one-upmanship. You roll over people. This is the exact opposite of what the handshake is meant to communicate. Many historians see handshaking as a male activity supposed to signal that you are not aggressive, that you don't have a weapon in your hand.
4. The next-to-the-body handshake
When you keep your arm close to your body and just bend at the elbow, you look insecure and secretive.
5. The firm handshake
This is the handshake that makes the best impression, we have been taught to believe. It's brief and says you are strong, confident and professional. Some psychologists believe that this message comes from the time when we were tree-dwelling primates and getting a firm grip meant you were going to get somewhere.
While handshakes are believed to communicate so much so fast about your personality, virtually no research has tested this common wisdom.
But science has come to the rescue!
In "Handshaking, Gender, Personality, and First Impressions," William Chaplin and his students at the University of Alabama put the firm handshake to the test.
With so many women entering politics and the workplace, the study investigated whether male handshake etiquette applies to females too.
I myself like to shake hands, but only with male colleagues. I always extend my hand first. This is traditional etiquette. A man wasn't supposed to shake hands with a woman unless she invited the physical contact.
A firm handshake, I hope, communicates that this is only a professional relationship and I am confident and professional.
Am I right? Or do I come across as too assertive?
The research on gender differences in business and politics sends an unfortunate message. The same behavior that communicates leadership in men can communicate bossiness in women. Look at Hillary's problems.
To investigate the meaning of handshakes, Chaplin and his colleagues trained four raters to evaluate the strength, vigor, length and wetness of a handshake. The raters next made a judgment on the personalities of the men and women who had different kinds of handshakes.
The men and women shaking hands with the raters had taken personality tests, which revealed what they were really like.
When the men gave a firm handshake, they gave a great first impression. The raters said they were more sociable, agreeable, conscientious and open to new experiences and ideas.
But were they really?
The personality tests revealed something different. Men with a firm handshake did turn out to be more sociable. But these men were not more conscientious or more willing to try out something new.
Women with a firm handshake also made a good first impression. They didn't send the message that they were the bossy type. But their handshakes revealed almost nothing about their true personalities.
The firm handshake turns out to be a disguise.
So this is the take-home message: Dry your hands, get up when you shake hands, shake a couple of times, and then release. You'll make a great first impression and no one will find out much about the real you.
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