Rule 13: Don’t Limp Fish

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Famous Actor Richard Mofe Damijo with Famous Comedian,  Teju Baby Face

We shake hands often and usually quite unconsciously.  How many times do you have to shake hands during a normal business week?  And how much thought do you give to it?  There are so many signals given during that brief handshake though, that you really ought to make it supremely confident, utterly secure and convincingly reassuring.  When someone shakes hands with you they should be left with the impression of strength, confidence; power and of someone totally in control of themselves – that’s you of course.  It you are in any doubt about the ‘rightness’ of your handshake get a friend to tell you.


How do you make it better?  Make it firm.  You can always use the other hand to reassuringly grip both your hand and that of your boss/colleague/client.  But don’t overdo it and leave them with crushed fingers.

You can always adapt your handshake to make it more individual, or memorable.  My grandfather had a wonderful handshake; he just used his first two fingers (the fore and index) and his thumb and gripped very firmly. You felt as if you were shaking hands with royalty.

Handshakes are very formal, old fashioned things.  Forget about the high fives, the Masonic twitches or anything gangster-style.  Stick to the old fashioned sort of shake and you will be remembered as someone confident and authoritative.

“Handshakes are very formal, old fashioned things.  Forget about the high fives, the Masonic twitches or anything gangster-style.  Stick to the old fashioned sort of shake and you will be remembered as someone confident and authoritative”.


Good shakers are the ones who proffer their hand first as well as shaking well. They exude confidence by announcing their name and offering their hand at the same time thus showing keenness, friendliness, a relaxed and confident approach and a general air of assertiveness.  They also look you in the eyes and say your name back to you.  We like hearing our own name and it is aide memoire.

When you do announce your name the word that goes first is ‘Hello’.  That’s it. You might like to be modern and friendly and say ‘Hi’ – that’s up to you. But the good Rules Player says ‘Hello’.  And follows that with their name.  And your name is also formal and old fashioned.  It is never ‘Hi, I’m Dave, from Marketing’.  The effect is pleasant enough and certainly friendly, but you will have impressed no one, gained no benefit or advantage and brought yourself down to just about the level of the most junior person there.  Much better to say, ‘Hello, I’m David Simpson, Marketing Manager’.  This immediately separates you from the herd and makes you more senior to anyone else there.  Follow this up with a firm, confident handshake and you will have them eating out of your hand.
(Excerpts from THE RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to exude Confidence and Energy” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)

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