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  • Handshake to Set Yourself Apart

    Handshake photo from ShutterstockWhen Richard Maracinko, author of several books on the NAVY SEALs, shakes hands, he uses two. The left is to check your pulse to see if you’re nervous meeting him and then he acts accordingly.

    A famous restaurant owner in New York lets people know what their status is with her based on her choice of greeting: Newcomers get a nod of the head, semi regulars get a handshake, regulars get a peck on the cheek, and favored few get a stand-up kiss and hug.

    Probably better than a Time Magazine article reported on a tribe in Papua, New Guinea, where men meet each other with a genial clasping of each other’s genitals instead of a handshake.

    The Center for Nonverbal Studies reports on the “latest” touch to seal the deal: the bump. That’s what we witnessed when Michael Capellas of Compaq and his counterpart Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard signed off on their merger proposal. We also see bumped fists on the athletic field, on television, and in the movies.

    Say you choose to stick with the traditional good mutual handshake:

    Start with your good posture when approaching the person. Pause before you reach out so as not to get too close too soon. Plus, it makes the handshake gesture feel special and directed to the person.

    Clasp palm to palm. Women should pay particular attention to not letting their fingers be what the person grasps. Palm to palm helps avoid squishy shakes or painful ones with your fingers squashed.

    Hold on a split second longer than necessary. Three pumps versus one. Retrieve your hand.

    Check your distance: eighteen inches in New York, twenty four inches in Cheyenne. You’ll be disliked instantly if your distance is wrong. Adjust if necessary.

    You can put your left hand on the person’s wrist, elbow, shoulder, or even hug. Pelvises don’t touch. Clavicles can.
    Bad technique is too sweaty, far away, close, late in release, early in the release, high, low, many pumps, or few pumps.
    The two-handed shake, hug, backslaps, pats on the back, pat on one cheek while kissing the other, bumps, grasps can be done with anyone at anytime based on the effect you want.

    If you want to avoid being the recipient of a hug or hand kiss, get your arm/hand out on your approach. The person may still try it, but you’ve set the stage for the stiffer arm shake, and you’ll more likely succeed in getting it. While you avoid the physical contact you don’t wish to engage in, you still have to maintain the person’s self-esteem and not leave the other person feeling rebuffed.

    There are times you do not want to bond with the shaker. And you choose to do the opposite: Give a brief, brusque, flea-flicker shake, with no eye contact. Everything depends on the effect.

    D.A. (Debra) Benton has been helping great individuals and organizations get even better for over 20 years. Just as exceptional athletes rely on excellent coaching to hone their skills, Debra's clients rely on her advice to advance their careers. She focuses on what is truly important to convert what you and your organization want to be from a vision into a reality. TopCEOCoaches.com ranks her in the World's Top 10 CEO Coaches noting she is the top female. And as conference keynote speaker she is routinely rated in the top 2%. Her client list reads like a “Who's Who” of executives in companies ranging from Microsoft, McDonald's, Kraft, American Express, Merrill Lynch, United Airlines, and PricewaterhouseCoopers to the Washington Beltway and U.S.Border Patrol. *She is the author of ten award-winning and best-selling business books including The Virtual Executive and CEO Material. She has written for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company. She has been featured in USA Today, Fortune, The New York Times, and Time; she has appeared on Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and CBS with Diane Sawyer. To learn more Debra advising leaders, coaching, facilitating a workshop, or speaking: www.debrabenton.com

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