This is something I have known for a very long time and I guess perhaps it was instilled by my father: it is the power of firm handshake while maintaining eye contact. I’ve experienced individuals that do not have a firm handshake and they are some of the most competent people I know. But, a firm handshake is the foundation of trust without words. That, coupled with solid eye contact can lay the groundwork for a strong working relationship.
Men who are reading this also need to realize that this applies to when you’re dealing with women also. Of course there are women out there that do not welcome the firm embrace of a strong handshake. But, you must assume that a women involved with the project, in a professional setting, are not such women and you will find that they respond in kind to your firm handshake. Buy shaking a women’s hand with the same firmness (not force) and maintaining eye contact you are signifying to them that they are an equal.
When I go out to the project location, I can tell just by the way individuals shake my hand (after we’ve established that initial foundation of trust) who’s working alongside me in a team effort for the good of the project. These are the individuals you can go to in a pinch when things are difficult or you need some extra effort out of them or the team. I’ve also seen this in my personal life when after a long time of not seeing someone, I get that firm handshake and solid eye contact, that this individual felt it was good to see me and no such words were ever exchanged.
This topic might be considered “played out” but its importance cannot be stressed enough. We live in a digital age where people we interact with are either just down the hall or half way around the globe. In either instance, the opportunity to shakes someone’s hand seems to get less and less every year. That makes this gesture even more important as it establishes a bond that you just can’t achieve over the internet.
After writing this, I read quite a few online pieces that reference this topic specifically and I found two that I feel really capture what I have been briefly discussing. The first was my favorite in encapsulating the topic as a whole and the second does a good job in reference the shaking of a women’s hand. So, pay attention to your next handshake with the above words in mind, you’ll notice a difference. I’ll conclude by quoting from the first online article which really struck a chord with me: “If only my father knew that one of the most important lessons he ever taught me about growing up and becoming a man was how to exude dignity, confidence and respect through the simple action of shaking someone’s hand.”