How much can you learn from a handshake?


In the recent Personal Impact programmes I have run I have experienced a number of what I would call “lettuce leaf handshakes” and a surprising proportion of these have been from men.

On one particular occasion, I questioned this well over 6ft tall, alpha male, city trader if he gave women a weaker handshake than men. The response was “yes I do. Is this the wrong thing to do?”. This was a concept that was new to me and although in theory, it made some sense, in this particular instance, to me, he had taken it a step too far. Later that day I hear from him in true trader fashion: a one line email “I just did a quick survey here – I’m def too weak, thanks for highlighting”.

All in all, this was an insightful experience on two accounts. How much should we change our handshake according to whose hand we are shaking, be it from the perspective of gender, culture etc. But also how great it is to be able to give someone some feedback and for them to be so well adjusted that they immediately do something about it. It still brings a smile to my face when I think of this guy going back to the trading floor to ask people to rate his handshake.

I suppose the question I have for you all is have you ever had feedback on how your handshake impacts your reputation? As with so much of what we do there may well be incongruence between what impact we think.