Open Yourself to Others With a Welcoming Handshake

Yesterday, I was greeted in what seemed to be an unconventional manner by the young clinician (let’s call her Janet) who called me from the waiting room at my eye doctor’s office.

Yet at the same time, I must say I liked it, and I was impressed.

Are you wondering what Janet did that surprised and impressed me so? She held out her hand and gave me a very confident, but welcoming handshake during her introduction.

It struck me as odd because I can’t ever remember a female employee, in that type of setting, introducing herself with such boldness and confidence.

Her handshake prompted me to immediately compliment her and to strike up a conversation that lasted throughout our short time together.

It turns out that Janet learned about handshakes from her father. He had taught her that combining a firm handshake with a friendly introduction was a great way to start a relationship, even if it’s only a 10-15 minute one in an eye doctor’s office.

I’d say Janet is lucky to have such a wise teacher for a father. In fact, her father and Michele Cushatt’s dad seem to have taught their daughters similar lessons about the value of memorable handshakes (Michele’s must-read handshake story is here).

My encounter with Janet reminded me of a very different situation last week where handshakes were also invaluable for me as I began delivering a new training class.

I was teaching an employee development class for a client for the first time. As you might expect, I was a bit nervous. So to help counteract my jitters, I made sure the room was completely ready before any of the participants arrived.

As each person entered the room, I was right there to greet them warmly with an outstretched arm and a welcoming handshake. Quite literally, my handshake was their first contact with me. It helped to signal that I was glad they were there.

The conversations that followed, before the class even started, allowed me to have “old” friends in the audience instead of faceless strangers. I believe it set the stage for my successful delivery and for the participants’ positive engagement during the class.

No matter where you’re meeting others for the first time, adding your signature handshake can often be an important part of kicking off a positive new relationship.

“I can feel the twinkle of his eye in his handshake.” – Helen Keller (American author)

Question: How can you use a confident, welcoming handshake to help build and enhance your relationships?