Handshake Rapport Handshake rapport is a mighty communication tool, often part of that all-important, made only once, first impression. Introductions can produce some anxiety when we aren’t sure what to do. Rules are more lax than they used to be, but following these guidelines helps to avoid anxiety and creates an atmosphere for building rapport. A handshake is appropriate when you’re being introduced, when you say goodbye, when you greet someone and when you welcome someone to your home, office, place of business or wherever you gather with business associates or clients. A warm greeting accompanied by a handshake can set the stage for a friendly, welcoming atmosphere necessary for establishing effective communication and achieving satisfying results. Here are a few up-to-date suggestions for good handshake rapport. The grip: Handshake rapport begins with a firm but gentle grip suggesting confidence. A limp grip or one with just the fingers extended suggests timidity. A bone-cruncher is too forceful and overly eager. A handshake should be palm to palm, web to web. Smile and make eye contact. Gently pump your hand once or twice and let go. Non-gender: It’s no longer expected that a man waits for a woman to put out her hand first or that the grip be different man-to-man, man-to-woman or woman-to-woman. A handshake is appropriate no matter what the gender. Two hands? Maybe: Using two hands when riding a bicycle is a good idea. Using the two-handed grip may also be a good idea when you honestly want to communicate sincerity and warmth. However, it may also communicate insincerity, two much intimacy and an attempt at intimidation. Use it sparingly and appropriately. Be cool: If you extend your hand to someone and that person doesn’t extend back, just withdraw your hand and go on with your greeting. Unless you’ve done something really awful, the other person is behaving badly. Who says what to whom?: These are general rules: Younger is introduced to older, associate to client, peer to employer, lesser rank to higher rank. That latter one sounds a little stuffy, but in business there’s no sense in being thought of as bad mannered by those in charge. Here’s a typical greeting. “Mrs. Jefferson (older, employer, or client), this is Carol Black, my co-worker.” Stand, except when…: Always stand for introductions no matter your gender unless you’re wedged in behind a table and can’t get up. Just briefly rise, which is the best you can do at the moment, and extend your hand. Forgetting a name: There are times when the situation calls for our your best judgment, but what’s most important is that the greeting and the introduction takes place at all. If possible, make sure you have all the names beforehand. If not, it’s better to ask than to ignore. A friendly handshake, a warm smile and eye contact may be your first experience with someone whose attitudes and decisions can make a difference to your business or profession. Handshake rapport is a part of establishing trust and respect from the beginning and one of the first steps toward mutually beneficial outcomes.