Recently I was speaking at a business networking breakfast and afterwards a businessman told me of his handshaking problem, and now this wasn’t the first time I have come across it however each time I am shocked. Now this man was lovely, gentle and kind yet he felt uncomfortable shaking women’s hands. He felt like he was being rude…. (Enter shocked Danielle)…… rude? It’s rude NOT shaking someone’s hand!
There is nothing more neutral, as far as behaviours are concerned, than shaking someone’s hand – a man or a woman.
Haven’t we come far enough from the bra burning days that we are all considered equal in business? Why would you ever think it’s appropriate to greet two people, shake the man’s hand and then look at the woman without movement? (Hint: you don’t) Shake it; shake hands with everyone you meet in business. Even the work experience kid, everyone, because like I said it’s neutral behaviour.
Of course this is also a matter of having cultural awareness and I’m stating this entire article in the western cultural setting where handshakes are appropriate, common, neutral, and I dare say, expected.
I understand that some men feel that are being too “manly” by shaking a woman’s hand in business and not making them feel comfortable or respected but I can quite easily say that don’t shake her hand and you couldn’t do much more to make her more uncomfortable and disrespected.
Like I always say, business etiquette is all about having neutral bahaviours and not to hit anyone’s pet peeves and so everyone is comfortable in your presence but if you carry on this poor handshaking behaviour then you will potentially destroy this business relationship in the first two seconds of your meeting. Not a great start.
So get out there, look people in the eye, smile and shake their hand. If you are worried about what they are thinking, then don’t because trust me, they will be thinking a lot worse if you are shake free.
Happy handshaking….. to everyone!