Negotiating Advice

Body Language in Business: Insights on Handshake Variations

Written by Clayton Reeves for Gaebler Ventures

Handshakes can be an important part of your business relations. In order to understand how you can use a handshake to give a good impression, you may have to implement some additional practices. This article will briefly go over those practices and how they can help you.

A simple handshake is usually enough to create rapport and introduce yourself to a new person.

However, when there is more that needs to take place in the exchange, there are several practices you can undertake to help your cause.

This is particularly important for leaders and executives who understand that perceptions can greatly impact their cause. The following few practices should be used only in the right situations.

The Double Hand Grasp

The double hand grasp happens when one person shakes your hand and then puts their left hand on the outside of your right. This gives more of an intimate feeling to the handshake.

This handshake is usually used when a personal bond between the two people already exists. The extra touching can be too much when you have just met a person. However, when you already know someone the double hand grasp can be a great tool to create more rapport and come off as trustworthy and honest.

Additional Touching

Additional touching can take more forms than simply a double hand grasp. Generally, touching anywhere on the arm up to the shoulder is acceptable in certain situations.

The further from the hand that the touching occurs, the more intimate the feeling that is created. Sometimes, touching someone on the upper arm or shoulder can result in an impromptu hug. If you don't feel comfortable initiating a hug with someone, then you should certainly not initiate the extra touching during the handshake. These two actions are sometimes taken in the same way. Additional touching should be used when you feel comfortable and close to someone and want to create that feeling of intimacy and trust between the two of you.

Body Angle

In power plays, body angle comes into play. This is especially important for people who are often photographed when they shake hands. If you can imagine two people looking into a camera while it takes a picture of them, the person on the left looks significantly more dominant. This is a result of their body angle. They are on the left, and their entire right arm is visible across their body. The person on the right shows only a small part of their arm and looks smaller or more constricted. It almost seems like the person on the left is holding them back, through a dominant position. Just remember this tidbit when you may be photographed shaking hands. Sometimes the photograph reaches more eyes than the actual content of the meeting.

Learning More

Body language in negotiations is a subject that has been researched extensively. These observations are only a basic assembly of the knowledge I've garnered through human study, research and discussion with professors of the trade. I believe the best resource out there is The Definitive Guide to Body Language, by Allan and Barbara Pease. Not only is in genuinely informative, it is also undeniably humorous and enjoyable to read.

When he's not playing racquetball or studying for a class, Clayton Reeves enjoys writing articles about entrepreneurship. He is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri with a concentration in Economics and Finance.

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