One of the earliest lessons the business world taught me was how to shake hands properly. During training at my first job out of college, they actually took the time to teach us. Grip, placement, duration … done right, the affect is charming and significant. We practiced shaking hands. It was that important to the company for us to make a good first impression. Today, 20 years later, it’s still a crucial skill in my day-to-day business practice.
In the bigger picture, a good handshake is part of our overall body language. Most people interact with others every day, registering nonverbal clues without giving them a second thought.
Robin Dreeke works for the FBI and recently published a book called It’s Not All About Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone. I found the chapter titled “Accommodating Nonverbals” pretty interesting because it mentions the importance of the handshake, along with the importance of smiling, head position and body angle.
Dreeke pays homage to the master when he talks about the simple act of smiling, which he sites as #2 of the six principles in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Dreeke talks about the importance of having what he calls “a genuine smile;” although I’m of the opinion that if you have to try to have a genuine smile, it may look forced.
Dreeke mentions that head position is something that people respond to. A slight angle indicates that you’re comfortable with a person. A forward tilt of the head helps you to avoid the perception of “looking down your nose” at someone. Both of these are great tips.
“Blading” is the term that Dreeke uses for body positioning. He says a slight body angle or blade away from the individual will be much more accommodating. He also says that squaring up “toe to toe” will be intimidating to some people.
We meet new people every day. As a REALTOR®, it goes with the territory. Developing rapport quickly and making a person comfortable with you is often the difference between someone you met and someone with whom you’re doing business.
What do you think? Are there any nonverbal communications that you make an effort to exhibit to develop rapport with clients and colleagues?