The Four Handshakes of Death

The Four Handshakes of Death

Gina was a 5’10”, fire inspector. When she came out to inspect for the city you could tell that she knew what she was doing. However, when she shook your hand it conveyed a message of insecurity and lack of power.

Handshakes give instant feedback on the trustworthiness of people. It may not be fair, but for many of us it is an instant warning sign that we consciously or subconsciously pay attention to.

For men a handshake has the same connotation as “looking someone in the eye”. A decent handshake shows respect, a person’s internal strength, trustworthiness; it is instant subconscious feedback.

For example if you had two people applying for a job, loan, project, or any personal or business application, and both people were equal in every respect, but one had a firm strong handshake, and the other had the handshake of death who would you be more inclined to hire or work with?

For women handshake conveys your internal strength or your internal weakness. It shows if you are someone to take seriously or someone to be pushed around, or put in your place.

Handshake of death number 1: The limp wrist or wimpy handshake. Have you ever shaken hands with someone and it felt like shaking hands with a wet noodle? It’s like shaking hands with an insecure, flighty, 98 pound weakling.

Handshake of death number 2: The claw. This feels like you’re shaking a crab claw; stiff & bony. You sense that shaking your hand is the last thing that they wanted to be doing. He conveys the message that you are unimportant and what you say doesn’t matter.

Handshake of death number 3: The knuckle buster. When they shake your hand it feels like they’re trying to crush it. It is a power trip to see how strong they are. My opinion is it just shows how insecure they are. Anyone who has to prove their manhood causing someone pain is not someone to trust.

Handshake of death number 4: I’m hip, cool and I’m showing off. The high five, hand slapped, fist bump, elbow knock or whatever variation that is popular this week may be fine among your friends who know the proper response, but trying it on an interviewer has a good chance of backfiring. Like anything else it’s important to know the proper setting to use any sort of variations on the handshake. And applying for a job the last thing you need to do is to be pegged as an airhead show off.

The key to developing a good handshake is to practice and get feedback. So shake hands with your family, friends, even strangers and ask if they think and feel it was a good handshake. What did it convey? Did it convey purpose, strength, vision, confidence, or shiftiness, fear, unwillingness, insecurity, and untrustworthiness?

A decent handshake will convey on a subconscious level that you are an equal, that you can be trusted, that you are worthy to be part of their company.

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