I don’t know about you, but when someone gives me a lousy handshake, it is hard to make the leap to liking and trusting that person. 

A weak or bone crushing handshake is the kind of thing that stays in your mind and colors your opinion of someone.   It only takes five seconds to make a first impression and changing that first impression is a lot like turning the Titanic.  Recently, a colleague told me a handshake story, so I thought I would pass it along to you.


An up and coming company has an opening for a VP/Marketing.  The job includes a great salary, benefits, and profit sharing. The HR department manages the nationwide search and begins the interview process.  A month goes by and they present the head of the division with a short list of candidates. He reviews the resumes and invites four people into his office for one-on-one interviews. The first person arrives late and, although he goes through the motions and interviews that person, that candidate is eliminated swiftly.  The second person arrives on time and interviews fairly well except she has a terrible habit of using filler words like “um” and “ahh” and “so” in just about every sentence. He is bothered by this and decides that this habit would drive him nuts on a conference call or in a meeting, so she is eliminated. Now, we’re down to two candidates: one man and one woman who are both equally qualified.  He interviews them each for nearly an hour and likes them both very much. They are smart, creative, bold and have flawless track records and impressive references. The decision maker is torn, so he decides to invite them each to dinner and is impressed with their ability to carry a conversation and their knowledge of etiquette and protocol. He leaves the restaurant knowing that either candidate would be a capable and entertaining host with clients. 

The clock is ticking and it’s time to choose one person over the other.  Who does the executive pick? 

The person with the better handshake.

Never underestimate the power of a handshake.  A handshake is nothing less than a reflection of who you are. When you meet someone, reach forward to shake, not up, down or sideways.  Shake a person’s hand firmly with your entire hand wrapped around theirs. Look the person in the eye and smile as you shake their hand. This is the trifecta of handshaking because when you do all three things at the same time, there is a connection that is created inside both of your brains.  Dopamine is secreted and the message is loud and clear:             

I like you. I trust you. 

And, in the case of this story, she got the job!


Read more from our Fall 2019 newsletter: A Letter from Liz | 20,000 Words | Become a Guest on Liz’s Podcast: Share Your Story | Executive Coaching Workshop for Women | Find your Invisible Edge


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