Power of a Handshake – Part 3
Prime the pump
January 24, 2020

Power of a Handshake – Part 3

BECKMAN INSTITUTE conducted research led by researcher Florin Dolcos and Department of Psychology postdoctoral research associate Sanda Dolcos. They found that “a handshake preceding social interaction enhanced the positive impact of approach and diminished the negative impact of avoidance behaviour on the evaluation of social interaction.”

In an article by The Economic Times titled Historic Handshakes that Shook the World, another handshake that made history was recounted. At a memorial service for Nelson Mandela on December 10, 2013, US President Barack Obama made headlines when he shook hands with Cuba’s Raul Castro, the first such public greeting between leaders after decades of enmity.

Within months there was a rapid thaw. Full diplomatic relations were restored in July 2015, followed by once-unthinkable steps to mend ties. Obama visited Cuba in 2016, the first such trip by an American president in 88 years. Subsequently, Washington also relaxed its decades-long embargo on Cuba and US airlines resumed direct flights to Havana in November 2016.

“An agreement can be expressed quickly and clearly in words,” the historian Walter Burkert once explained, “but is only made effective by a ritual gesture: open, weaponless hands stretched out toward one another, grasping each other in a mutual handshake.” Handshake is thought to have been a symbol of good faith when making an oath or promise.

Historically, men were not expected to shake hands with women. Nowadays, men are expected to give women the same firm handshake they give to their male counterparts. Handshakes vary from culture to culture. For instance, in the Middle East, a handshake is rather limp and lingering. In Japan, a light handshake and a nod of head are appropriate. In Europe, a man should wait for a woman to extend her hand in business as well as social situations. In the Western culture, the person with the higher status – man or woman is expected to initiate the handshake.

Regardless of where you are in the world, just like a picture, a handshake tells a thousand word.

To make a good first impression handshake you should have a good posture, make eye contact, hold your right hand out, give a good firm shake, follow the two second rule, smile and greet the other person and repeat their name.

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