- Make palm to palm contact. The single most important part of the international business handshake is making palm to palm contact.
- The palm of the hand shows you’re willing to be honest and that you come to business meeting “unarmed”
- Start early. Men are not always sure whether to shake hands and how to shake hands or greet women, especially in a mixed culture setting so let your body language show what you want. At fifteen feet flash up your eyebrows to show you see them.
- Then smile to show you’re friendly. The smile is the single most important nonverbal cue to show friendliness. It is actually able to be recognized from 300 feet away and a true wide smile is one of the few cues that have the same meaning in all cultures.
- Put out your hand at 6 to four feet away from the person you want to greet so they know you want to shake hands. If you prefer not to approach with your hands at your side and your left side slightly in front of you as you meet.
- People can form a first impression in less than a fortieth of a second and may be deciding what they think about you before you begin to speak so if you know you are about to greet someone important make sure you posture is “up” make sure your head is up and above your shoulders. If you are seated rise to greet others so that your are on an equal plane. (Unless you are eating. You shouldn't’t go up to shake hands with someone who is eating, nor should you have to shake hands when someone approaches you when you are eating. )
Make sure your posture is “open” that is, and your arms are not held or folded in front of your heart. That communicates that you may be afraid or lack confidence.
Animate your voice. Make sure it has the appropriate energy to show you are pleased and happy to meet someone.
Men prefer to talk face to face standing and side to side or catty corner sitting. Choose to stand or sit to make a man comfortable and he is more likely to have a favorable impression of you.
Remove your bracelets from your right hand if you choose to shake hands in a business setting as they send a first impression, “I am a woman” rather than, “I am a smart impressive person.”
A first impression is formed very quickly, but there is also a "recency effect". People remember the LAST thing you say or do. It is especially critical in an initial interaction. Make sure you end the conversation with appropriate eye contact. Think about the other person, make a real connection with them, smile softly and make sure that if you leave with a closing statement such as, “It was a pleasure meeting you.” That your voice is expressive and sincere. Think and feel the statement as your say it rather that say it automatically.
We often are thinking of ourselves, how we look, in an initial interaction. The big secret is to focus on the other person. Make it your job and your pleasure to make them feel comfortable and you will definitely make a great first impression!
Written by Patti Wood MA, CSP.
I was asked today by a journalist for my for 10 body language “tricks” for good first impressions for business woman for an issue of Harper’s Bazaar Dubai. This has been one of my favorite research areas for many years and certainly one of my audience's favorites so here are my top 12.