Did you know that the simple handshake can tell you more about the person you have just met than anything else? Even though it lasts only a second or so, it can give you instant information on someone.
Handshakes have been around for ages. Initially, they were used to show others that we were not holding a weapon. During the Roman Empire, one man would stretch out his right arm (his weapon hand) and clasp the arm of the man he was greeting just below the elbow. This was to done to prevent both of them from easily wielding a weapon. Medieval knights introduced the ‘shaking’ part of the handshake as they knew that other knights concealed daggers up their sleeves and this ‘shaking’ would help to dislodge any hidden weapons such as these.
Looking at handshakes purely from a scientific point of view, they can be analysed using several quite different variables. Here are some examples of physical variables:
* Size of hand - large to small
* Depth of tissues - bony to well padded
* Surface texture of the palm – rough to smooth
The more interesting variables are those that have been found to be correlated with a person’s true character. In other words, people may wish to give you a certain impression of themselves, but their handshake gives away their real personality. Here are some of those give-away variables:
* Moisture on the palm - dry to wet
* Force of the shake – strong to weak
* Temperature of the hand – hot to cold
* Length of time it lasts – from a split-second to minutes
* Direction of the shake - straight up and down, pulling in towards the body, etc
* Compounding variables - what their other hand does! (e.g., does it ‘cup’ your handshake, is it on your shoulder or back, etc)
* And more!
These variables give away secrets about your real feelings inside, your sensitivities, your true assertiveness and much more. When you shake someone’s hand your brain receives and processes all of this data in a split second. This in turn produces a combined ‘overall gut feeling’ or ‘first impression’ of the person you are meeting. For your own self development, the next time you shake someone’s hand, keep this information in mind and consider what is happening. You might be interested to ask yourself the following:
* Do you communicate with your own style of handshake?
* Do you change the way you shake someone’s hand according to how they shake yours?
* If you want to give the impression that you are a hard negotiator say, do you shake hands more firmly and vigorously?
* Do you automatically mirror the other person’s handshake to make them feel that they are meeting someone who is very much like them?
* Is there any correlation between the way some of your clients or customers shake your hand and your decision to do business with them ultimately?
In summary, be aware that in the course of an instant, handshakes send physiological as well as a multitude of subconscious data from one person to the next. Without them saying a word, it is possible to analyse a stranger in the blink of an eye. The simple handshake is one of the most fascinating methods of non-verbal communication between two people.