Archives for the month of: August, 2013



First impressions are made fast. One study I read said 90% of one’s opinion of someone else is made up in the first 90 seconds of meeting them. That’s fast! But test it out, sit somewhere at do some people watching. See how fast your mind makes up a story (good or bad) about the people you see. And it will
all be based on you simply seeing them, no conversation, no back story – just a quick size-up.

So upon meeting someone, you have your visual presentation of yourself, some very brief conversation skills/ openers, and the always underrated handshake. A lot can be told, and should be known about handshakes. There have been entire books and industries created around body language. But here is some basic info for you to start with:

The awkwardly loooong shake:

This greeting isn’t necessarily a problem if you are spending 5-10 seconds catching up, giving an extended thank you, or on sincere terms with the recipient. Otherwise, the recipient is probably wondering why you are standing there staring at them..

Pulling in:

This motion gives the puller the essence of control over the recipient. As the receiver gets pulled in closer, they are pulled off balance. Naturally, if you don’t have a strong stance or aren’t expecting this as a receiver, you tend to automatically stumble forward.

Palm vertical (each person’s hand is karate chopping the air):

This is the most neutral of all handshakes. It shows equality. It takes out all the possible misunderstandings of body language. When I see this I tend to think that person is being straightforward. You get what you see.

Palm down (forces your palm to face up):

This action is also known as a controlling behavior. It is basically the person saying (and literally demonstrating) that they are above/ over/ superior to you.

Palm up (forces your palm to face down):

This allows the receiver to automatically have a sense of control in the situation. It can be read a sign of humility and graciousness. I’ve seen men attempt to shake a woman’s hand in this manner. It is a professional yet gentle way of shaking hands. However, some powerful women will be immediately turn their hand vertical or even flip the scenario over to demonstrate their superiority.

Wimpy/weak hand:
(Or as my dad calls it; “wet toast”)

Unless there is some medical condition or extremely dainty-ness you are worried about, don’t do this. Stiffen up and put some effort into it. Otherwise it will be read as extremely low interest in the situation or extremely low confidence.

Left handed:

What?! Yes, lefties are out there. And they are forever adapting to our right-handed world. However, in many cultures it is very disrespectful to offer your left hand. That’s because is some cultures that is that hand you use for…uh hmm.. well wiping yourself. So know your audience, but that’s a good rule always follow!

But having said that, I usually use my left hand if I am going to incorporate a hug with my right arm. It gives that “great seeing you/working with you WITH a touch of “hey we’re buddies too ya know!”

Hand in hand:

This is when someone shakes your hand with one of their hands and covers the whole execution with their other free hand. It’s used as a sign of sympathy and caring, and extreme thankfulness, if you will.

…And last but not least (and newest):

Knuckle/ fist bump:

There is a coolness and casualness to the fist bump. Its very informal, but becoming more and more popular. I wouldn’t advise it in a professional situation unless the ties are loosened and the sleeves are rolled up. But in some circles its extremely acceptable and simply replaces the traditional handshake because of germs and grime. I’ve also done the “elbow bump” for those types of situations.

So be well! Crack your knuckles inconspicuously ahead of time, wipe your hand on your pant leg, and start to pay attention to people’s body language. It’s definitely not all-inclusive but it can tell you a lot about a person.