Trying to make a great first impression is something that requires time an effort. Perfecting the optimum length of eye contact, the natural smile and the perfect handshake doesn’t come easy- it takes practice.

Body language plays such an important part in meeting people that it’s good to educate yourself on a few pointers, including being aware of telling signs that someone is uneasy:-

  • Avoiding eye contact when speaking
  • Swinging from side to side
  • Fidgeting with fingers
  • Hands in pockets
  • Broken flow of conversation peppered with a few too many ‘erms and ahs’
  • Looking down when speaking


It’s important to be aware of these signs, but it’s as equally as important to recognise that just because someone falters when speaking, that in itself isn’t grounds for dismissing them as an trustworthy person.

When evaluating the character of someone new, the rule of thumb seems to be to look out for displays of a minimum of 3 or 4 body language ‘tells’. This usually indicates they are hiding something. A simple lack of confidence or a rational fear can cause people to avert eye contact or stammer when speaking, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are disingenuous.


The Perfect Handshake

In this country it is still protocol to shake hands when meeting someone – unlike other countries which conduct greetings with either an embrace, a cheek kiss, a bow

Obama bowing to Japanese Emperor

or some elaborate hand jive synchronisation. The handshake has always been a bit of a window to a person’s character and as such it’s worthwhile taking a bit of time to perfect it.


A Bad Handshake

A bad handshake can be as damaging as an out of place joke, and that limp wristed, wet fish of a shake is as much of a faux pas as a knuckle busting vice grip. Too soft a grip and you can appear weak and open to manipulation, too hard and you can come across as bullish and domineering.


The Right way to Shake Hands

Lean forward slightly and offer your hand sideways on keeping the wrist strong and firm. Take the other person’s hand, whilst lightly touching their elbow with your free hand, grip firmly but not too hard, pump once, twice and then let go. It’s important to remember that whilst shaking hands you should maintain eye contact and smile.


How to Manoeuvre Out of a Bad Handshake

It’s inevitable that every now and then you will come across the bad handshakers, the one’s that seem reluctant to engage for fear of human contact, or the ones that use the physical contact as a means of commandeering the situation. When this happens it’s down to you to change the dynamic.

If someone offers you their hand with palms facing downwards in a coercive manner, then leaning forward, take their hand and rotate it slowly to the side, whilst gently placing a hand on their elbow. They won’t be aware of the mechanics but with a smile and eye contact their whole demeanour will change and rapport will have been cemented.


Whilst it’s advantageous to hone our meet and greet persona it’s also imperative that the onus of this is to make the other person feel comfortable. Perfecting the handshake and ensuring we make a great first impression should never be done to manipulate a person or a situation.

Luckily though if we truly believe in our purpose then our inner confidence will shine through making it impossible to come across as anything but genuine and trustworthy.

For more ideas on how to make a great impression, boost confidence and generally tackle life head on, check out my site with links to vlogs, blogs and a whole lot more.

Images by 089photoshootings, Stacey Herbert