The Importance of a Good Handshake

Yesterday, I got the chance to talk about something I know has been bugging thousands of professionals all over the UK, and probably beyond…

… the importance of a decent handshake.

At a Young Enterprise ‘Learn to Earn’ event at St. Philomena’s Catholic High School in Carshalton, the girls spent the day learning about what to expect when they choose to get on their career ladder. From what types of job they could consider to how to manage their personal expenditure without going beyond their means, they learned a lot of what I wish I had been taught when I was at school.

The girls talked about the importance and purpose of a CV, what they needed to do in terms of preparation for an interview, and also what to expect when they arrive and meet a potential employer.

This includes offering their hand for a firm hand shake.

A good hand shake should look like this:


And as small a point as this may be, a weak handshake can be the make or break between a good or bad impression. Don’t even think of shaking hands without making eye contact… you’ll just seem insincere.

Your handshake could be interpretted as your attitude to the person and the situation. Offer a confident handshake and your perception is already positive.

Although not too hard… you don’t want to start a power play game do you?

Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that helps technology organisations redesign their business models to help them build better relationships with their customers. You can follow the team on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.


2 thoughts on “The Importance of a Good Handshake

  1. I’ll be honest with you here Vaughan but I’m never sure myself.

    However, I have noted that typically with those who hold the handshake longer, even for a second, tend to in their mind be anticipating the double ‘mwah mwah’. I’ve found that if it’s appropriate for me to take the initiative and decide on whether it’s a continental kiss or not.

    For me personally, continental kissing, the handshake and hug combo, or even the one kiss wonder with men or women should only be given to those who you have a connection with beyond meeting them for the first time. If they initiate it, then I’m happy to oblige even if it’s to avoid the awkward robotic movements that could occur if someone bails out of the connection!

  2. Interesting and useful as usual Susanne, however could you also offer your opinion on a possibly more contentious but related issue (especially as you were addressing girls yesterday) – when (if ever) is it right to do the “continental kiss” greeting? In a previous business I had a female employee who cringed every time she knew she would be meeting a particular customer because he always went for the kiss both cheeks greeting. He even did this on the first meeting. She really despised it, and felt very uncomfortable, but was equally worried about offending him. Ultimately she discussed it with me, and I had a gentle chat with the customer, but there always seemed to be a slight tension when they met afterwards.

    In countries/cultures where it is the norm – and I guess crucially not related to gender – I do not see it as an issue, however in the UK it very clearly isn’t the norm. Should men take the lead from women? What does that say about gender equality though?

    I don’t know, however I’m pretty sure you have a great perspective and one which you could share with girls/women entering business, as sadly I think it will be a conundrum in the UK for many years yet.

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