How to Make a Good First
Impression by Finding the Hidden Message in Your Prospect's Handshake
by Gregory Stebbins
More than just physical contact, a handshake conveys a wealth
of psychological information.
We walk away from a handshake saying things like, "You know,
I just felt real comfortable with her" or "I don't know why, but I simply
don't trust that guy."
Most people don't spend time probing the depths of this unconscious
communication. They just have a "feeling," or a sense that their "intuition"
is telling them something. However, there are things we can use as sales professionals
by looking a little more closely at the experience.
The Top 10 Handshake Types - And What They
Reveal About Your Client or Prospect
- Sweaty Palms - When a person is nervous their sympathetic nervous
system often becomes overactive, sometimes resulting in sweaty palms. Do
what you can to put this individual at ease.
- Dead Fish - Indifferent handshakes that feel like the person has
no bones in their hand often indicate a passive or reserved personality.
This handshake ranks as the number two least favored. Individuals with this
type of clasp are generally not people-focused. Knowing this, you can tailor
your presentation to de-emphasize the people aspect and focus more on the
mechanical or thing-focused benefits. Exceptions to this rule might be musicians
and surgeons whose livelihood depends on sensitive hands and who are therefore
reluctant to open up to a bone crusher.
- Brush Off - This handshake type is a quick grasp and then a release
that feels like your hand being shoved aside. This handshake is a statement
of "it's my turf and my agenda that matters, yours doesn't." Listen first
to what the person wants before talking about your ideas for them.
- Controller - You feel your hand being pulled toward the person
or strongly guided in a different direction, perhaps towards a chair. People
who do this are controllers. This means they want to dominate any inanimate
or animate object in the room (and that would include you). If your goals
are different than theirs there may be challenges ahead. Do more listening
than talking and see if you can find common ground so these individuals can
control the situation toward your desired objective.
- Politician - Your hand is firmly grasped as in a normal handshake.
However, their other hand may cover yours or be placed on your forearm or
shoulder. Unless the two of you are good friends, this is a form of false
sincerity. The person is attempting to communicate that the two of you have
a deeper relationship than you actually have. After receiving this kind of
handshake, I recommend you check your pockets or purse to see if anything
is missing. Similarly, be cautious about relying on this person's word for
anything and be attentive in your dealings with them.
- Finger Vise - When someone grabs your fingers and not your entire
hand it is meant to keep you at a distance. These people are often insecure.
If they also crush your fingers they are adding a show of personal power,
which is also designed to keep you at a distance or at least create some
fear of challenging them. I wouldn't recommend becoming submissive, however
it will serve your purpose to be somewhat deferential to them.
- Bone Crusher - The message of squeezing your hand until you cringe
is clearly designed to intimidate you. Even when the person may not know
how strong they are, there is still a message of intimidation and power behind
the grip. You don't have to pretend to be a wimp with them, and, in fact,
they may respond positively to you if you present yourself with strength.
Just don't get into a hand-squeezing contest when you shake because then
it becomes a competition and even if you win, you'll lose.
- Lobster Claw - Like the claw of a lobster, the other person's
thumb and fingers touch the palm of your hand. The person doing this fears
connecting at a deep level and may have challenges building relationships.
Take your time. Allow them to open up at their own pace. As they become more
comfortable with you their handshake may actually change. Once they fully
accept you, they can become a client for life.
- Hand Wrestler - Your hand is taken normally and then twisted under
the other person's. This is usually done aggressively. Be very careful in
your own presentation as this person is absolutely committed to being on
top, regardless of what they say they want.
- Teacup - This handshake feels normal except that there is no palm-to-palm
contact. The other person's palm is cupped, like a teacup. This handshake
indicates that the person is hiding something from you. It might just be
a serious case of shyness or it could be something more substantial. Always
check for missing information when working with this individual.
In any sales situation, the more you know about your prospects
and clients, the better you can communicate with them. Primed with the information
presented here, you can start creating a strong first impression by being
aware of your own handshake, and learning the hidden messages in your client
or prospect's. Then making a good impression is truly in your hands.
Sales Psychology Expert Gregory Stebbins has helped over 20,000 sales professionals
become the point of differentiation while their competitors struggle with
how to differentiate their product and service. In his book PeopleSavvy
for Sales Professionals, he unveils for the first time his simple but
groundbreaking plan to win your customers' trust and business forever. Get
your free sneak preview at http://www.peoplesavvy.com/book.htm
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