Palm Reading: Essential to First Impressions

23 Sep

You caught me; I can’t help you learn fortune telling – and while it is fascinating, it isn’t an essential business skill. Handshakes, on the other hand, are an undervalued skill that communicate essential messages to potential employers, bosses, and co-workers.

My personal experience with firm handshakes began as soon as I was old enough to grip. At every Sunday night dinner with my grandparents, we would practice proper handshakes. We weren’t allowed to head home until we had given my grandpa an “appropriate” goodbye.

What did he define as “appropriate”? That would depend on our age – and our strength. When we were younger, this handshake was a loving farewell. Now that my brothers and I are older, it often turns into a handshake battle – sometimes double handed, fighting tooth and nail to force the other one to give in.

While cutting off your boss’ circulation is never recommended, handshakes are extremely pertinent one in the business world. Your handshake is one of the first ways you communicate about yourself. First impressions are formed within the first 15-30 seconds, so whether you are interviewing, going to a meeting, or presenting, a major component of that first impression is the handshake.

Have you ever had your circulation cut off during a handshake? Have you experienced a handshake that just won’t end? Here are a couple tips to avoid some of the most common handshake mistakes:

Don’t use one finger. The dainty handshake communicates a lack of strength and confidence, so consequently, you should avoid it. Your hand should be web-to-web with the other person’s, meaning you slide your hand all the way into theirs. Holding a glass or portfolio in one hand should never be an excuse for a weak handshake; place items in your left hand so you don’t have to awkwardly shift items before shaking hands.

Don’t go in for the kill. Bruising your boss’ hand is not an appropriate way to impress. While your grip should be firm, your intention should not be showing off how much you’ve been weightlifting. The handshake should last about 3-4 seconds, or enough time to introduce yourself briefly.

Don’t be lifeless. You don’t want your potential employer or your boss to think you don’t want to be there. Use a firm grip, be sincere, and be professional. “Generally, the person who extends their hand first has the ‘power’ in the setting,” says Dr. Nancy B. Irwin, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and therapeutic hypnotist. “In our American culture, the handshake shows interest, openness and confidence.”[1]

Handshakes, however, are not the only component to making yourself stand out during a first impression. Other ways to impress include:

  • Exude confidence
  • Dress professionally
  • Maintain good posture
  • Face your acquaintance
  • Speak with a strong, upbeat voice
  • Sustain eye contact

by Katie Bush

For more detailed tips on making a great first impression, watch:


3 Responses to “Palm Reading: Essential to First Impressions”

  1. Angela Chen October 6, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    Katie, I liked how you brought your own story into this post. Bad handshakes can definitely leave negative first impressions. Personally, I believe hand temperatures matter as well. It is not pleasing to shake cold or sweaty hands…

  2. Adam Solomon October 19, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    This is a cool topic not often talked about. This may seem sexist, but for some reason when I shake a girl’s hand, I usually don’t squeeze as hard as a I would if i were shaking a guy’s hand. Also, do you think you should shake an older person’s hand more gently?

    • Katie Bush November 9, 2011 at 1:45 am #

      Adam and Angela,

      Thanks for the comments! In response to your questions, Adam, I would say it depends on the individual. While you don’t want to break an elderly person’s hand, don’t underestimate their strength! My grandpa may look elderly, but he winces at weak handshakes as he immediately judges the other person. You might be surprised how strong some people in older generations are. Do be careful, however, as again you don’t want to injure anyone.

      In terms of girls, again I wouldn’t hesitate to still be firm. Just because we are female does not mean we don’t have hand strength, or don’t appreciate a good handshake. Again, try not to cut off our circulation, but you can still use a solid handshake.


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