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How Is Your Handshake?

You can tell a lot about a person from their handshake. I travel a lot and do a lot of speaking in public, so I shake a lot of hands. A weak handshake can be a red flag that someone is a liar or that he or she is incredibly insecure. When I was young, my mother always worked in big companies and she always moved up the ladder very quickly. She would eventually get the position where she hired and fired people and she told me it was all about the handshake. Since I was thirteen, I’ve had a nice strong handshake because my mother luckily drilled it into me—much like my grandmother drilled in me the importance of a good firm stance.

I just met someone recently who was such an interesting person but had a horrible handshake, and by horrible, I mean limp and weak. I was immediately taken aback because the handshake did not seem to fit the personality. I wondered if they were a liar but that’s not what I heard in my gut. I figured they must be very insecure about something. I didn’t want to insult them by pointing it out, but it certainly made me question whether I wanted to work with them or not. So I started thinking about ways to bring up the handshake issue and it came to me that shaking hands is much like passing a baton in a relay race—only we are in the relay race of life.

If I’m in a race with you and I’m passing you the baton, I want to be very clear that you’re going to take that baton and run with it, not drop it or break it in half, but firmly run with it to the next racer. Handshakes are like that. You are passing your energy, much like an energetic business card. I have a strong handshake, not a vice grip where I break fingers or linger too long, but a strong grip that lets you know that you can trust that I will take the baton and run with it. So for those of you out shaking hands, think about what you’re passing along and what you’re accepting. Are you going to break the baton? I’ve noticed that some people shake hands in such a strong way that it hurts—that too is a red flag in my opinion. Don’t even get me started about weak handshakes, they spell out all kinds of weaknesses outside of the limp grip. So are you going to grip the baton and continue the race or are you going to let it fall out of your hands?

Pass the baton in the race of life with strength and grace and win the race.