I had just finished possibly one of the most significant meetings of my life, presenting an idea to the CEO of a large education group. The meeting had gone extremely well and I had to keep from bouncing off the walls with excitement! As the meeting came to a close and we said our goodbyes, the moment arose – the woman-to-woman handshake.
She put her hand out and I awkwardly followed with less than the ideal level of confidence. My handbag was on right shoulder (the hand I shake with) so I was trying to hold it back with my elbow. To balance this, and to keep my handbag from flying forward, I found myself doing this weird four finger handshake that almost made me want to cry with embarrassment.
As we were turning to leave she said to me ‘Can I give you some advice?’, my heart skipped a beat, (all that was going through my mind is oh my god she thinks I’m a moron).
However instead she kindly proceeded to educate me in the art of ‘the handshake’, explaining the basic rules:
1. Confidently hold out your hand
2. Use a firm grip to shake
3. Look them straight in the eye
I would like to add one more rule – make sure your handbag is not on the shoulder of the hand you use to shake!
With true generosity of spirit she then gave me a few practice handshakes until I got it right!
Pretty simple really, but after speaking to some girlfriends who have had similar experiences it made me ponder the fact that this was really the first time I was required to shake hands with another woman.
Growing up, girls don’t really enter scenarios that require handshakes like boys do. On social occasions, it’s all hugs and kisses for the girls, while the boys are learning to shake hands. So when we are thrust into the business world in our twenties we are inexperienced in this cornerstone of business interaction. I have to say that I am extremely grateful for this experience as I now feel I know what to do at the end of those encounters, where a hug would be extremely inappropriate and just saying bye seems rude.
So this is me spreading the word ladies, women in business do shake hands – we need to learn the art of the handshake! Go for it, don’t hesitate and make sure you practice!
I’d love to know how you learned to shake hands. Did someone teach you growing up? Or like me were you thrust in to an awkward scenario?
Michelle-Lee is a fashion blogger and entrepreneur. She is passionate about business in the online world, fashion and online shopping. She is also an accomplished clothing designer, stylist and graphic designer.