Shake Up Your Chances of Getting Ahead [Video]

Getting Ahead Who knew that June 28 was National Handshake Day? Apparently, Beverly Hills Manners expert Lisa Gache did and, in honor, she has some great advice on how to use this all-important form of frontline physical contact to catapult yourself to the top.

"A strong emphasis is placed on a firm handshake because it speaks loudly about credibility, confidence and professionalism," says Gache, whose tips have been featured everywhere from CNN and the "Today" show to USA Today and The Huffington Post. "Make sure every meeting begins and ends with a handshake. In a professional setting, it doesn't matter who offers a hand first, however, the person who extends a hand first typically has an advantage because it shows initiative and is perceived as being in control."

When it comes to a job interview, extending your hand for a shake shows comfort and confidence -- even if you're feeling nervous and insecure, a firm handshake can help disguise that. You have to make sure you do it correctly, however.

What does the correct handshake involve? Gache describes it like this:

"To shake hands properly, extend your right hand. The palm should be facing sideways with the thumb up and the fingers extended away from you. When you shake you want to make sure you are meeting hands web-to-web (the area between your index finger and thumb). The whole arm should not move, only the forearm from the elbow down. Shake with two smooth pumps and then release. Your grip should be firm, not too strong and not dangling like a limp fish."

Gache adds that: "A handshake means nothing without making good eye contact and flashing those pearly whites. In the U.S., a tremendous amount of emphasis is placed on eye contact. It is a sign of respect. When shaking hands, maintain good eye contact throughout, display a natural smile and give your undivided attention to the person your shaking with, making them feel as if they are the only person in the room."

And one more thing? Unless you are physically unable, you should always stand for a handshake. It's a sign of deference.

So that's the right way to shake hands. Here are some wrong ways that Gache cautions you to avoid:

  • The Wet Fish - This is where the person touches only the tips of your fingers. This handshake feels a bit distant and aloof as if the person isn't invested in meeting you.
  • The Bone Cruncher - It literally feels as if the person is crushing the bones in your hand. This handshake makes you feel as if the person has something to prove or that they are trying to wield their strong power over you.
  • The Thumb Pincher - Here the person presses down too firmly with their thumb and gets you right in that sensitive pressure point. The person offering this type of handshake is perceived as nervous or a bit uncomfortable.
  • The Endless Handshake - This one seems to go on forever -- the person has absolutely no clue when to let go. He or she appears overly enthusiastic and a bit too eager.

Some people might feel this is an awful lot to remember -- especially when going on a job interview. Is it really that important? "Neglecting to shake another person's hand is considered one of the most rude offenses," says Gache. There is nothing worse than extending your hand for a handshake and having it rejected by the other person, no matter what the reason. Unless you have the Swine flu, Whooping Cough or some other contagious infection or disease, always accept an offer to shake hands."

What if you do have a contagious disease and seriously don't want to infect someone, or vice versa -- the person you're shaking hands with doesn't want to infect you? It's perfectly acceptable for either one of you to say, "I'm so sorry, but I'm just getting over something, and I wouldn't want to run the risk of passing it along." Under those circumstances, no offense should be given or taken. Just don't go into any detail about your malady.

It never hurts to practice with a friend or family member, before a big handshaking event. Have the person you're practicing with read these rules and give you feedback. It shouldn't take you more than about five minutes, but it could have an everlasting effect on your career.

A Handshake Says a Thousand Words from lisagache on Vimeo.

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