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8 Handshakes that Hurt Your Influence

Have you ever wondered what your handshake says about you? Your handshake is like your business card. It conveys your confidence, credibility and influence without sharing a single word. Studies have shown this one simple gesture can enhance a social situation and make a positive impact on others.

In our culture, a handshake accompanies almost every introduction and initiates many conversations. It sets the tone for new relationships by signaling others of your integrity. People often admit to judging others based on this small gesture. Because of this, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology encourages everyone to pay attention to their handshake as it has found significant consistencies in a firm handshake and a positive first impression.

Make a great first impression by considering your handshake and what it says about you and avoid these eight types of handshakes that will hurt your influence with others:

Dead Fish
Also known as the limp noodle, this handshake conveys weakness and uncertainty. It gives people the impression you have a passive personality and can be easily overrun. Don’t use this handshake even when tempted to be gentle with a person due to age or gender.

Hand Crusher
Want someone to forget your name immediately? Squeeze their hand with constant force. They'll be so distracted from the pain they'll tune out anything you say. This type of handshake diminishes trust others are willing to place in you. It sends the message you're trying too hard, and people will likely question what you say after that.

Long Lingerer
Few things can make a handshake recipient more uncomfortable than someone who won’t let go of their hand. Handshakes should be no more than two seconds in length. Anything longer begins to cross personal boundaries and feels like a desperate invasion of space.

Hip Hipster
First bumps and fancy handshakes have their place – with friends and family. They have no business in the workplace. They reflect a lack of awareness and a need to be revered as ‘cool’ not credible. Images of frat boys and football parties come to mind instead of experienced professional.  

Brush Off
A handshake is intended to kick-start a meaningful connection. When shaking someone’s hand, be deliberate with your eye contact and don’t rush the exchange. Nothing makes someone feel like they’re unimportant or being blown off quite like shaking hands with a person in a rush or looking around at others.

Wet Weasel
We all get nervous and have anxiety before big meetings or introductions. It's natural. What isn't natural; however, is the feeling of contacting someone's sweaty palms. If probably already know if you are likely to have unusually wet palms before the introduction. If so, carry a handkerchief in your pocket to use just before the introduction. You can wash your hands with cold water to help keep them cool under pressure.

Hand Hugger
We've all shaken hands with someone who uses both of theirs to embraces our both top and bottom. While this is perfectly normal in a personal situation with friends and family, it’s out of place in a professional setting. You can convey a message of warmth with your eyes, smile and choice of words. There is no need to embrace someone’s hand in such a personal manner.

Shugger
The shug is best known as a handshake that pulls the receiver closer to you physically, almost as if you were going to hug them. It forces them to come closer as your hand stays closely tucked into your body. While this type of handshake is common among friendly colleagues and peers, it sends a message of favoritism to those on the outside looking in. Remember, your handshake conveys a message to everyone, not just the person with whose hand you’re shaking.

Perfecting the Perfect Handshake
Practice the perfect handshake first by seeking feedback on yours. Ask someone you trust to help identify areas of opportunity. Then, practice it on others to solicit feedback and more guidance until you've mastered the art. Some keys to the perfect handshake include:

  • Anticipate the handshake. Ensure your hand is free, out of your pocket and not holding onto any items. Switching hands to shake is distracting and awkward.
  • Use your right hand. Even if you're a leftie, our culture dictates right-handed handshakes as key.
  • Maintain a strong, confident posture. Remain upright and refrain from leaning. If necessary, take a step toward the person with whom you're greeting. If you’re seated upon meeting someone, stand up before shaking their hand. This signifies respect to the person you’re meeting.
  • Make intentional eye contact as you greet the other person. Once you hand makes a connection, ensure your eyes connect too. Use a kind greeting such as “nice to meet you” or “great to see you again.” Incorporate their name with your greeting to help better solidify your introduction. This interaction trifecta will warm up anyone with whom you connect.
  • Remain firm throughout the handshake. Grasp the other person’s hand with a firm grip without squeezing. Maintain the grip for two seconds before releasing. Don’t allow your hand to fall limp upon the initial grip.
  • Shake from your elbow, not your wrist. Two or three pumps will do. Any more and your partner will begin to feel uncomfortable.

You want to be so confident in your handshake style that it is second nature. Seeking feedback and frequent practice will help solidify your good habits, so you can concentrate more on meeting the person and less on the impression you're making. The more comfortable you become, the confidence you'll convey.

Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke Inc. She is the author of "Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be." Stacey and her team have delivered thousands of presentations and workshops for leaders of Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, Nationwide, FedEx, Kohl’s and AbbVie. Learn more at www.staceyhankeinc.com.

8 Handshakes that Hurt Your Influence

Have you ever wondered what your handshake says about you? Your handshake is like your business card. It conveys your confidence, credibility and influence without sharing a single word. Studies have shown this one simple gesture can enhance a social situation and make a positive impact on others.

In our culture, a handshake accompanies almost every introduction and initiates many conversations. It sets the tone for new relationships by signaling others of your integrity. People often admit to judging others based on this small gesture. Because of this, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology encourages everyone to pay attention to their handshake as it has found significant consistencies in a firm handshake and a positive first impression.

Make a great first impression by considering your handshake and what it says about you and avoid these eight types of handshakes that will hurt your influence with others:

Dead Fish
Also known as the limp noodle, this handshake conveys weakness and uncertainty. It gives people the impression you have a passive personality and can be easily overrun. Don’t use this handshake even when tempted to be gentle with a person due to age or gender.

Hand Crusher
Want someone to forget your name immediately? Squeeze their hand with constant force. They'll be so distracted from the pain they'll tune out anything you say. This type of handshake diminishes trust others are willing to place in you. It sends the message you're trying too hard, and people will likely question what you say after that.

Long Lingerer
Few things can make a handshake recipient more uncomfortable than someone who won’t let go of their hand. Handshakes should be no more than two seconds in length. Anything longer begins to cross personal boundaries and feels like a desperate invasion of space.

Hip Hipster
First bumps and fancy handshakes have their place – with friends and family. They have no business in the workplace. They reflect a lack of awareness and a need to be revered as ‘cool’ not credible. Images of frat boys and football parties come to mind instead of experienced professional.  

Brush Off
A handshake is intended to kick-start a meaningful connection. When shaking someone’s hand, be deliberate with your eye contact and don’t rush the exchange. Nothing makes someone feel like they’re unimportant or being blown off quite like shaking hands with a person in a rush or looking around at others.

Wet Weasel
We all get nervous and have anxiety before big meetings or introductions. It's natural. What isn't natural; however, is the feeling of contacting someone's sweaty palms. If probably already know if you are likely to have unusually wet palms before the introduction. If so, carry a handkerchief in your pocket to use just before the introduction. You can wash your hands with cold water to help keep them cool under pressure.

Hand Hugger
We've all shaken hands with someone who uses both of theirs to embraces our both top and bottom. While this is perfectly normal in a personal situation with friends and family, it’s out of place in a professional setting. You can convey a message of warmth with your eyes, smile and choice of words. There is no need to embrace someone’s hand in such a personal manner.

Shugger
The shug is best known as a handshake that pulls the receiver closer to you physically, almost as if you were going to hug them. It forces them to come closer as your hand stays closely tucked into your body. While this type of handshake is common among friendly colleagues and peers, it sends a message of favoritism to those on the outside looking in. Remember, your handshake conveys a message to everyone, not just the person with whose hand you’re shaking.

Perfecting the Perfect Handshake
Practice the perfect handshake first by seeking feedback on yours. Ask someone you trust to help identify areas of opportunity. Then, practice it on others to solicit feedback and more guidance until you've mastered the art. Some keys to the perfect handshake include:

  • Anticipate the handshake. Ensure your hand is free, out of your pocket and not holding onto any items. Switching hands to shake is distracting and awkward.
  • Use your right hand. Even if you're a leftie, our culture dictates right-handed handshakes as key.
  • Maintain a strong, confident posture. Remain upright and refrain from leaning. If necessary, take a step toward the person with whom you're greeting. If you’re seated upon meeting someone, stand up before shaking their hand. This signifies respect to the person you’re meeting.
  • Make intentional eye contact as you greet the other person. Once you hand makes a connection, ensure your eyes connect too. Use a kind greeting such as “nice to meet you” or “great to see you again.” Incorporate their name with your greeting to help better solidify your introduction. This interaction trifecta will warm up anyone with whom you connect.
  • Remain firm throughout the handshake. Grasp the other person’s hand with a firm grip without squeezing. Maintain the grip for two seconds before releasing. Don’t allow your hand to fall limp upon the initial grip.
  • Shake from your elbow, not your wrist. Two or three pumps will do. Any more and your partner will begin to feel uncomfortable.

You want to be so confident in your handshake style that it is second nature. Seeking feedback and frequent practice will help solidify your good habits, so you can concentrate more on meeting the person and less on the impression you're making. The more comfortable you become, the confidence you'll convey.

Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke Inc. She is the author of "Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be." Stacey and her team have delivered thousands of presentations and workshops for leaders of Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, Nationwide, FedEx, Kohl’s and AbbVie. Learn more at www.staceyhankeinc.com.

Getting Around H-town: Car free and Carefree

From traffic jams to costly parking spots, driving in Houston can often spoil fun outings and weekend plans. In a city that ranks as the sixth most stressful place in the country to drive, traveling to catch the latest exhibit at your favorite museum or dining downtown is often a hassle. 

 

Navigating the city, however, doesn’t always have to be paired with taking your car. Some of the most simple and underrated commute solutions include hopping on the METRORail, renting out a bike from Houston’s Bcycle program, and walking. 

 

Spanning nearly 23 miles, Houston’s light rail system will drop you off within a 10-minute walk or bike ride away from the city’s best cultural attractions and eateries, with the added bonus of skipping out on parking fees. 

 

There are several hot spots in Houston that are perfect for catching the rail, biking and walking. 

 

Hot Spot: Museum District 

Perfect for adventurers and explorers, the Museum District offers a variety of walkable and bikeable activities.

 

The Museum District rail station will put you less than a 10-minute walk away from Houston’s museum attractions, including The Health Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, The Museum of Science, The Children’s Museum, The Contemporary Arts Museum, The Asia Society Texas Center, The Czech Center Museum and the Museum of African American Culture. 

 

Exiting at the Hermann Park/Rice U station is a 12-minute walk away from the Houston Zoo, or an even closer distance away from Hermann Park, which is full of shaded walking paths and hideaways for a jog, peaceful stroll or group picnic.  

 

The Museum District has multiple access points to pick up a BCycle bike, and a diverse collection of shops and restaurants in Rice Village or Montrose are only a 10-minute bike ride away. 

 

Hot Spot: Downtown

From the Theater District to Discovery Green, Downtown Houston has a wide range of eateries and fun-filled weekend activities. 

 

Getting off at downtown rail stops on the red line, such as Preston and Main Street Square, will put you in walking distance of Latin American tapas, Italian cuisine, Greek food, Tex-Mex, seafood and some of Houston’s most beloved steakhouses.

 

There are also several green spaces downtown, which can easily be accessed with a short walk, bike ride, or rail trip. Discovery Green is a two-minute walk away from the Convention District stop, while Market Square Park is a four-minute walk away from the Preston stop. Both urban parks offer free events, from yoga classes to musical performances. 

 

Whether you’re trying to catch the Houston Rockets in action, go to a concert or head to a conference, the rail takes you near the Toyota Center and the George R. Brown Convention Center. Plus, you won’t have to hassle with navigating crowded parking lots or searching for a parking spot. 

 

Houston is one of the few cities in the country to offer permanent professional resident companies in opera, ballet, music,and theater, all of which can be easily accessed from the light rail. From the Theater District stop, the Alley Theater, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jones Hall for the Performing Arts and Theater Under the Stars are a five-minute walk away or less. 

 

Hot Spot: EaDo

East Downtown is a vibrant neighborhood teeming with diverse restaurant options and artwork. Exiting off the green and purple lines on the rail is a great way to discover some of the best up-and-coming and well-established restaurants in the city. EaDo is also the birthplace of Houston’s original Chinatown (before it moved to the southwest side of the city), so there are plenty of authentic Asian cuisine options. There is also no shortage of murals in the area, which can easily be accessed by biking or walking.  

 

If you’re looking to cheer on the Astros at Minute Maid or the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium, catching the game is exponentially more convenient if you take the rail, exit at the Convention District stop, and walk a few blocks to watch your favorite Houston sports teams. 

 

To catch a ride on the rail, simply pay $1.25 fare for each ride, purchase a $3 unlimited day pass or invest in a reloadable and reusable METRO Q Card. Paying a one-time fare can be done at each rail station, while METRO cards and passes can be purchased and reloaded online. You can find your closest light rail stop, and plan your trip at www.ridemetro.org/.

 

To hop on a bike, Houston’s Bcycle network has 60 stations across the city and more than 400 rental bicycles available for a low fare. Head to www.houuston.bcycle.com for a full listing of all the stations. The iOS and Android-friendly BCycle app allows users to plan and route their trips as well as easily pay their fare. 

 

To learn more about transforming your commute, whether planning weekend outings or mid-week festivities, visit www.findasmarterwaytowork.org/. 

 

As with any excursion, make sure you stay hydrated, sun-screened and prepared to spend more time enjoying yourself instead of stuck in traffic.

 

Happy traveling! 

 

10 Leadership Traits that Work in Motherhood

Today, my best friend’s daughter passed her driver’s license test and within minutes I got a text from my BFF saying, “I stood in the parking lot at the DMV and sobbed like a baby.

This is a very big parent moment.” And, as every good best friend does, I sobbed right alongside her. In that moment, years of memories flooded in from our crazy college parties, to the weddings, baby showers, and birthdays we’ve celebrated together, and sadly, to the difficult health battles of our loved ones – some won and some lost. In a nano-second it hit me like a ton of bricks: Life is ever-changing – our children, who have grown up together, are becoming competent, responsible, hard-working, young adults. They need us less, they want and deserve more autonomy, and they are “ready” to show us what they can do without us. And, we’ve worked hard for this too, yet why is to so tough to let go and give them the room to succeed and soar without us?   

With Mother’s Day around the corner, this morning’s good cry has prompted me to reflect on motherhood and make a connection to my other “job” – not the one of mom to teenage boys, but my work as a leadership consultant, thought-leader, and executive coach. Here’s the connection: In the world of work, this driver’s license accomplishment is like earning a gigantic promotion.

So, whether it’s being the “boss” of a newly promoted teen driver or a business leader, there is typically a paradigm shift required. These new drivers and leaders need enough room to successfully do their new job, step into their new accountabilities, build new skills, including messing up, learning and growing; but ultimately a good “boss” supports, teaches, and coaches to ensure success. We should expect challenges and setbacks, as well as surprise and delight when they show us what they’re truly capable of.

When I work with business leaders to prepare for and take on bigger jobs, we often spend time understanding (and avoiding) the typical leadership transition traps. In business, here’s some of the classic things that trip up leaders:  

• They fail to trust and empower the leaders who work for them (they feel they can do it better or they aren’t sure of capabilities, so they keep it for themselves).

• They hold on too tight to what they did before and how they did it (even though the new job requires something very different from them).

• They aren’t sure how to “create value” in their new role; if they aren’t “doing the work” anymore, they aren’t sure how to spend their time.

In truth, for many of us, these are the exact same things that trip us up as parents of teens. As our kids become teenagers they force us to adjust our role and purpose. They insist on more independence, freedom, and autonomy – and for the most part they are highly capable. As parents of teens we are now “leading leaders” and just like business leaders, it requires an adjustment. In the context of work, this seems obvious, yet as parents, this transition can be so much harder and less apparent.

Most days, I feel like I’m a much better leadership consultant than mother, but I do know there are some extremely important leadership learnings that apply to parenting. In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I plan to renew my commitment to being the best mother and “leader of little leaders” I can be.

These are 10 leadership traits I’ve adapted to motherhood.  know they work in business, so I’m giving them a try with my teenagers:

• If you can and should be doing it, I’m not doing it for you; when I do it for you I’m holding you back.

• It’s okay for you to have setbacks and make mistakes. When you do, the only thing I expect from you is that you openly and honestly explore why it happened, think about what you could have done differently, and make the shifts necessary to avoid the same mistake.

• You’re smarter and more capable than both of us even know. I will help you explore what you’re best at and help create opportunities for you to learn, grow, and be your best; your potential to achieve greatness is unlimited.

• I will be clear about my expectations and then trust you to live up to them.  know you want to do the right thing (even though sometimes you won’t – see #2).

• When you tell me you’ve “got it covered” I will give you the space to follow-through. I won’t ask you ten times if you’ve done it yet (see #4).

* I’m here to help you expand your self-awareness, learn what you’re capable of, help you see your own potential, and build your confidence. I realize this won’t happen without honesty, candor, transparency and positive intent.

* I care about your opinion. I want to hear your views and understand how you think about things; when I’m asking you questions it is because I care and want to learn more about you, not to interrogate and fault find.

• I will work to create positive energy and optimism. I know you’ll be your best if that’s what our home feels like.

• I will recognize and celebrate your milestones, successes and accomplishments – small and large.

* I’m on your team, always. You never have to question my intentions or commitment to you.

The truly great business leaders I know exemplify the value that “true leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” As parents, we have one true purpose: prepare our children to go out into the world independently and responsibly, with confidence and kindness, to do great things. Happy Mother’s Day – we’ve got this, Moms!

Abby Curnow-Chavez is a mother, leadership development expert and co-founder of the Trispective Group. She is the co-author of The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor and Authenticity Create Great Organizations. For more information, or to take a free team snapshot assessment, please visit, www.trispectivegroup.com/.

Taryn Sims' career highlighted by opportunities to learn

Taryn Sims has been in commercial real estate at Wulfe & Co. for 21 years, and still, she finds she’s constantly learning.

“There’s never a day I don’t come across something new. I’m in the property management side of it, and we're always solving issues for tenants or for client owners,” Sims said.

The work she does for her retail clients is challenging, but rewarding, and that’s probably what kepts her engaged for so long and not tempted to go off and do something different.
A native Houstonian who graduated from Eisenhower High School, Sims went to community college for just a couple of semesters, then realized she was eager to get her career started.

“I thought I was smarter than I was,” she joked. “Instead of earning a college degree, I graduated from the College of Hard Knocks.”

Sims started at Trammell Crow as an accounting clerk, then moved up the ranks into property management, working at Parkway Investments and the Highland Village Shopping Center before joining Wulfe.

Along the way, she obtained several certifications that helped propel her career forward, including Certified Property Manager, Certified Shopping Center Manager and Certified Retail Property Executive.  She is now president of Wulfe Management Services, which manages more than five million square feet of commercial space.

Sims has been a volunteer at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo since 1998, serving on the Paint Horse Committee, where she served as chair for three years. The Paint Horse Committee hosts a walk/trot event where children under seven years can showcase their skills with their paint horses.

She also serves on the Trailblazer Committee, which hosts the annual Trailblazer Honoree Luncheon and Fashion Show. The Trailblazer Committee also promotes literacy through  Rodeo ROPES (Reading Opens the Path to Education Success). It collects and distributes books to low-income school children.

For others interested in a building a career in commercial real estate, Sims has plenty of good advice. Number One: Don’t follow her lead, but go ahead and get a college degree, even if the curriculum is not specifically targeted to real estate.

“Ed Wulfe has been a great mentor, and I’ve been with him this long for a good reason,” Sims said. “I’ve learned so much from him.”

Deborah Quinn Hensel is a freelance journalist and staff reporter for Houston Woman Magazine.

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