What’s in a Handshake?
I recently joined a Gym in Downtown San Diego. When the personal trainer introduced himself, he stuck out his hand- and I shook it. He looked at me funny and explained he wasn’t used to proper handshakes from girls my age; he usually gets one of those limp wristed ‘delicate’ handshakes.
I guess he was impressed I was competent enough to know how to shake hands, but it was odd to me that he expected an unprofessional, girly shake from me- just because of my age and the way I looked.
That got me thinking- I was proud of my handshake. When growing up my dad taught me the facts of professional life: confident handshake, dress for the job you want, and never stir up gossip in the workplace. Although the gossip part is pretty tempting for me sometimes, I pretty much have abided by these rules in my short life so far. I really didn’t like this guy’s assumption that I didn’t and surprise when I did know how to properly shake a hand.
Fast forward a few days and I’m at Nordstrom buying some new clothes for the gym. (I’m on an athletic kick this month and clothes help me get to the gym. Don’t judge.) The sales girl is friendly, helpful and professional. She gave me some great choices to try on and even gave me tips on where the best yoga studios were in the area. As I walk into the dressing room to try on the clothes, she introduces herself as Amanda, asks my name and holds out her hand. I take it to shake but instead of assuming normal handshake position she simply cups her hand into a quasi-handshake position and delicately places it in the middle of my floating palm.
It was the oddest thing- limp wristed, weird, and super awkward! What was I supposed to do? She didn’t grasp my hand so I couldn’t shake hers. Instead I just sort of smiled and then dropped my hand a looked away.
This is what the trainer at the gym was expecting from me. I’d never experienced anyone in my professional life shaking hands like that! After the odd handshake introduction between myself and the Nordie’s sales associate I couldn’t help but think of her as either immature or unprofessional for thinking that her ‘cute’ handshake was appropriate. How could she not know that in order to properly introduce yourself you must extend your hand grasp- at medium firmness and briskly shake about one and a half times? I’m not making this up people. Maybe she thought her handshake was ‘cute’ but it immediately undermined her credibility. Not a good thing is sales- no matter how fun the shopping.
Needless to say, I first impressions are extremely important, whether you’re entering a professional relationship through business dealings, or even a quasi-business relationship such as my relationship with the sales associate at Nordstrom or the trainer at the gym. It doesn’t matter if you think the handshake is over the top or uncomfortable - why sell yourself short? When in doubt, shake. Properly.
I guess I’m just glad I haven’t experienced one of these yet: