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What's in a Handshake?

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by Mark Smith

almost 4 years ago

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The handshake is an ancient tradition that conveys trust, respect and agreement. It varies in tradition around the world but is believed to have evolved as a gesture of peace demonstrating that you are holding no weapons. In Australia today business is nearly always sealed with a firm handshake. So what makes the perfect handshake?

  1. Use your right hand
  2. Make sure you have a dry palm. A good tip is to place your palm on your sleeve if you are waiting to greet someone.
  3. Make eye contact and smile.
  4. A firm grip and open your fingers slightly.
  5. A couple of shakes, and don’t go on for more than a few seconds.

A little research reveals many thoughts on the perfect handshake, and one of my favourites is Geoffrey Beattie who, when working with the University of Manchester, created a mathematical formula for the perfect handshake expressed through 12 variables.

PH = √ (e2 + ve2)(d2) + (cg + dr)2 + π{(42)(42)}2 + (vi + t + te)2 + {(42 )(42)}2

  • (e) is eye contact (1=none; 5=direct), optimum value 5
  • (ve) is verbal greeting (1=totally inappropriate; 5=totally appropriate), 5
  • (d) is Duchenne smile - smiling in eyes and mouth, plus symmetry on both sides of face, and slower offset (1=totally non-Duchenne smile (false smile); 5=totally Duchenne), 5
  • (cg) completeness of grip (1=very incomplete; 5=full), 5
  • (dr) is dryness of hand (1=damp; 5=dry), 4
  • (s) is strength (1= weak; 5=strong), 3
  • (p) is position of hand (1=back towards own body; 5=other person's bodily zone), 3
  • (vi) is vigour (1=too low/too high; 5=mid), 3
  • (t) is temperature of hands (1=too cold/too hot; 5=mid), 3
  • (te) is texture of hands (5=mid; 1=too rough/too smooth), 3
  • (c) is control (1=low; 5=high), 3
  • (du) is duration (1= brief; 5=long), 3.

Now that’s a handshake!

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