Decoding the Four Types of Handshakes
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Decades ago, my grandfather asked a farmer if he and his buddies could camp in the farmer’s field so they could fish nearby. They shook hands and became very good friends. That one handshake led to a lifetime of family memories. Every summer when I was a growing up, 10 kids and 10 adults would descend upon that farmer’s field. We would have in tow four large tents, a dog and enough camping accessories to last for the week. It was our annual summer vacation with family and friends. The farmer would often stop by with his son and share a beer around the campfire.
My grandfather and the farmer have passed away. But the tradition continues because my father and the farmer’s son formed a similar friendship over a handshake. Today, the farmer’s son has a home in that field and my parents, having retired their tent, now have a camp on his property that they enjoy during the summer.
All because of a trust-filled handshake.
Handshakes can lead to life-long friendships like these, seal a business deal, greet a new friend or send someone off with good wishes. No matter how digital or virtual we become as a society, handshakes will always carry great meaning. During the pandemic, many of us missed our human connection immensely, including the handshake.
A handshake can also tell a story about the other person and give you valuable insight upon meeting someone for the first time. If you learned how to interpret someone’s handshake, you could immediately adapt your behavior to appeal to their communication needs and instantly build a more productive relationship.
Let’s see what we can learn from four types of classic handshakes.
The cobra handshake
Cobras kill their prey by squeezing the life out of them. This handshake is very firm, strong and often squeezes too hard. It gives you the impression of power. The person with this handshake tends to be direct, confident, goal-driven and can be controlling. They are competitive, fast thinkers who need to be successful at whatever they choose to do.
When you meet this person, quickly get down to business. You will only have their attention for a short time unless they perceive you as valuable to achieving their goals. Talking about actions that lead to impressive results will pique their interest. If you offer to help them meet other influencers, you’ll gain their respect as someone who knows the right people.
The animated handshake
This handshake is full of energy (at least three or four pumps) and may include a hug along with it. The person with this handshake knows a lot of people and tends to be an optimistic, social butterfly who hates details. They love meeting new people and helping others to make connections.
When you meet this person, put on a smile and give them a compliment. Allow time for small talk and get to know them. Avoid being overly analytical and drop the details. Leverage their willingness to connect people, and ask for their help to meet others in the room. If you keep it lighter, they will enjoy your company and be inclined to want to spend more time with you.
The mannerly handshake
This handshake is like Goldilocks’ favorite bed – just right. There’s not too much strength and not too much squeeze. However, it will often be supported by an extra touch on the arm, shoulder or second hand on the side. The person giving this handshake is patient, kind, caring and polite. They don’t like to appear pushy and prefer to avoid attention. They tend to be very approachable and are great listeners.
When you meet this person, dial it down a bit and focus on matching their energy level. If you come on too loud or assertive, this person will feel like they can’t relate to you. Mind your manners, be authentic and give them your full attention. Help them to see your desire and ability to relate well with people for who they are with no hidden agendas.
The quick-release handshake
This handshake usually includes a quick one or two basic pumps followed immediately by a step backwards. The person giving this handshake is signaling that they prefer to maintain their personal space. They are not the touchy-feely type, so hugs or extra touches can be eliminated. This person looks for high quality and tends to be analytical, practical and reserved. They love the details that often spawn a great deal of curiosity and thoughtful questions.
When you meet this person, keep your distance and avoid the urge to close the gap. Satisfy their curiosity by answering their questions in a concise way that highlights your expertise. Talking about tasks you may be involved with or processes you use in your practice will engage their analytical mind and form a natural connection. Ask if you could help them meet anyone else as they will be inclined to appreciate a personal introduction versus walking up to someone cold.
Every handshake tells a story and conveys a message. Most advisors don’t pay attention to these messages and end up treating everyone the same. I help advisor clients to learn and understand the nuances of how people communicate and why they behave the way they do. This builds and improves their capacity to create long-lasting, collaborative relationships with colleagues, clients, prospects, COIs and community connections.
Learning to read these four handshakes and how to respond appropriately prepares advisors to connect with individuals in any prospect meeting, networking event, or industry conference when meeting someone for the first time.
One never knows where that handshake will lead.
Michelle R. Donovan and Patty Kreamer own Productivity Uncorked LLC where Michelle (referral coach) and Patty Kreamer (productivity coach) offer a one-two punch to help financial advisors get more done in their day and be more profitable. Patty and Michelle are both Certified Facilitators for Everything DiSC Workplace. If you or your team needs to be more effective and in tune with the people you interact with daily, email Michelle at [email protected].