One of the basic tools of every sales rep and jobseeker.

In the business world, it is one of the ancient sacraments of the "first impression". Others, such as the haircut, the shoeshine, the eye contact, and the engaging smile, are perhaps as important, but none is as laden with psychological import (with the possible exception of the chatting about golf).

There is a highly developed handshake-fu that can be used by expert practioners to crush enemies or woo allies, but the novice must first master the basic firm handshake.

The first key to remember is that in an initial business encounter, the handshake is always appropriate. Do not let inexperience make you shy about offering the hand. It is a sign of confidence and strength. If your opponent refuses your hand, you are probably in a hostile encounter, which will require advanced interpersonal skills, beyond the scope of this writeup. Try to limit damage by dropping the hand quickly, possibly raising the other one to meet it, and allowing them to fall, clasped loosely in front of you, as though that gesture were your initial intent. In a group encounter, follow the lead of the group leader. If you are the first to be introduced, offer the hand only if there are no more than three players to a team. The completed handshake matrix cannot have more than about 9 entries without embarrassing someone, unless you are a politician or a celebrity.

The clasp itself should be palm-to-palm, with the fingers wrapped gently around the opponent's hand. The squeeze is executed with the fleshy part of the hand. Fingertips should never come into play.

The crucial art of the firm handshake lies in the strength of the clasp. This will vary according to your intent, and the wa of your opponent, but generally, you should try to leave the impression that you have immense power in reserve. Do not crush your opponent's hand, but make him feel that you could save him/her if he were dangling from a cliff. The proper expression of gentle, casual strength can overcome even the (potentially disastrous) sweaty palm, if executed with precision.

The firm handshake lasts no more than about a second. Never pump your opponent's hand. Vertical motion should be limited to a single, slight downward push, if it is used at all.

Some people cannot or will not execute the firm handshake. The usual strategy used to avoid it is to proffer the hand with the fingers not outstretched, but angled in toward the palm. Do not be afraid of this handshake, but treat it differently. Merely enclose your opponent's fingers in your hand, remembering to avoid using the fingertips. Watch these people closely, because they are sometimes wily and vicious.

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