Handshakes make a huge difference

Logan Raschke, News Editor

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What everyone says is true. A handshake really does make a big difference in communication.

In my advanced composition class, we discussed how a firm handshake affects a person’s interview assessment.

Studies show that interviewers perceive those with firm handshakes to have extraverted characteristics and those with less firm handshakes to have anxious or nervous characteristics.

Interviewers tend to favor those with the extraverted characteristics, so these people typically receive more positive assessments post-interview.

The study also found a distinct gender bias.

Women tend to have less firm handshakes than men, according to the study. This could be because handshaking has historically been a male-male method of introduction and communication.

In fact, handshaking began with knights—they shook hands to show they meant each other no harm and did not have their weapons sheathed for combat.

Women shaking hands is actually a pretty modern thing. Just about 40-50 years ago, it was seen as too manly of an exchange for women. It was awkward, to say the least, for a woman to shake hands with others back then.

So it makes sense that women would tend to have less powerful handshakes than men considering their experience is less advanced.

Something else the study found, though, is that women in general have better nonverbal communication skills. This also comes down to history.

Women have been silenced historically. It wasn’t until 1919 women had the right to vote.

Women still needed to communicate, though. How do you communicate if you can’t talk? Well, you communicate without talking.

That sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t. Women got very good at communicating with others nonverbally because remaining silent was a societal norm in the U.S. for a very long time.

Interviewers tend to pay very special attention to the nonverbal communication of the interviewees, too.

The study also found that women whose handshakes are just as strong or stronger than men’s firm handshakes actually tend to do better in the assessment.

So in this case, women may actually have the upper HAND (I’m making it extremely obvious here that I consciously made a pun).

So we’ve learned a little bit about the effectiveness of handshakes now. Basically, they give off cues to the interviewer that hint at an interviewee’s personality. The firmer the handshake, typically the better the assessment.

People still don’t know how to give good handshakes, though.

This doesn’t work for everyone, but people can still practice handshaking.

Just find a friend, try to remain serious and shake hands. I personally think it would be difficult to do that, though. Shaking hands with a professional peer is too in the moment for me.

I would personally recommend going to Career Services.

Career Services hosts mock interviews with students. Handshaking, albeit kind of an odd topic of discussion, is still one that professionals in Career Services would be more than happy to address with students.

Logan Raschke is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].