It’s official, handshakes are important - that’s the gist of a new study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. It offers more proof that the best way to win someone over - even a perfect stranger - is to shake their hand!

Why? Dr. Florin Dolcos is a psychologist who says handshakes light up the reward center of our brain, and stimulate us in a way that produces more positive thoughts. In fact, in this new study, a whopping 94% of people rated interactions that began with handshakes as being “more positive” than ones that didn’t include a handshake. So, what are the keys to the perfect handshake?

  • Offer your hand FIRST. And when you do, tilt your hand slightly downward. Body language expert Patti Wood says by extending your hand first, you show confidence. And by tilting your hand downward, you’ll be in position to “scoop up” for full palm-to-palm contact with the other person. That way, you’ll avoid the awkward fingers-only grab.
  • Apply pressure. Whether you’re the leader or the follower in a handshake, Wood says you want to be “in sync” with the other person’s grip. So, gauge how much pressure they’re putting on your hand, and then return it. And what if they’re crushing your hand with a kung-fu grip? Then, shift your weight so that your hand goes slightly forward. Wood says that’s a subtle “attack move,” that’ll cause your partner to loosen their grip, without noticing.
  • Lock eyes. But only briefly. Wood says eye contact during a handshake builds trust and confidence, but it should never exceed 3 seconds, or 3 pumps before you let go. Otherwise it’ll begin to feel creepy.

Comment on this story