It's in Your Own Hands

Recently a group of colleagues were introduced to a new agency partner. We all shook hands and then immediately got in the elevator to go to the meeting. We could hardly contain ourselves till the elevator doors closed to let escape our squeals of disgust and grimaces — limp handshake. Gross. Eeew.

Of course, talk then unfolded on how a weak handshake is pretty high (for me just below stinginess) on the list of things that will never ever make you attractive. To anyone. Ever.

Have you ever in all your experience met anyone who liked or even defended the limp handshake or the finger grasping fumble or the wet fish passive palm? No never.

But it is constantly there.

Of course, who would tell you that you had an offensively weak handshake? The perfect opportunity is at a job interview — it could be woven into feedback: “We loved you, yadda, yadda, yadda, but there was one area where you could have been more impressive.” There . . . done. After that the chance is gone. After that, you rarely, if ever, shake hands with a peer or member of your team day to day.

So the weak limp handshake lives on. And we all judge the person who proffers it. We attribute all sorts of wetness and weakness and lack of metal to that individual. That’s it — judged, accepted or dismissed all in that first 30 seconds.
 
And you know, that is how it is when we present or we pitch — we are holding out our hand. We only get one chance to make a first impression, and we need to think of it like a handshake.
 
Take that chance boldly in our own hands, be prepared to look it in the eye, grasp it like you want it, and go ahead and shake it up. 

Think of that first slide, that opening comment as your handshake. Limp and unsure, and that’s it. Firm, bold and strong, and people are paying attention.

Afterward, do you want people to be squealing in the elevator with delight or dismissal?

About Ruth Yearley

Ruth is a Partner and Director of Insight & Strategy in Ketchum's London office. She has over 20 years of marketing experience, from both a client and agency perspective. Ruth's specialism is facilitated sessions, featuring interrogative questioning, logical and strategic thinking and creative approaches, which can be used to focus team thinking and short circuit the developmental process.

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