News In Brief

A perfect formula for a successful handshake

Melissa Kaplan Jul 28, 2010

This morning we aired a piece on the power of the handshake, a ritual of business culture that can make or break a future associate’s impression of you. Luckily there’s no longer a need to risk doing it wrong: British scientists have exacted the science of performing a successful handshake. And luckily for us, MMR Hosts Bill Radke and Steve Chiotakis are very good at shaking hands (most of the reason for their longstanding careers in radio).

To execute a proper shake, you’ll need the right amounts of key elements, including:

Eye contact

A genuine, proportional smile and appropriate verbal greeting:

And as far as hands go, you’ll need the right strength of grip, temperature, texture and vigor:

Ultimately, the formula for the perfect handshake looks like this:

PH = √(e2 + ve2)(d2) + (cg + dr)2 + p{(4< s >2)(4< p >2)}2 + (vi + t + te)2 + {(4< c >2 )(4< du >2)}2

Perfect! And so you can understand why it’s perfect, here’s a key to the equation, including proper levels of each factor on a 1-5 scale:

(e): eye contact (1=none; 5=direct) — 5
(ve): verbal greeting (1=totally inappropriate; 5=totally appropriate) — 5
(d): Duchenne smile — smiling in eyes and mouth, plus symmetry on both sides of face, and slower offset (1=totally non-Duchenne smile (false smile); 5=totally Duchenne) — 5
(cg): completeness of grip (1=very incomplete; 5=full) — 5
(dr): dryness of hand (1=damp; 5=dry) — 4
(s): strength (1= weak; 5=strong) — 3
(p): position of hand(1=back towards own body; 5=other person’s bodily zone) — 3
(vi): vigor (1=too low/too high; 5=mid) — 3
(t): temperature of hands (1=too cold/too hot; 5=mid) — 3
(te): texture of hands (1=too rough/too smooth; 5=mid) — 3
(c): control (1=low; 5=high) — 3
(du): duration (1= brief; 5=long) — 3

If you’re looking for a less formal greeting, there are plenty of options available, including:

The fist bump:

The high-five:

The snail:

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