How to Shake Hands With a Woman at Work

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Different cultures show respect in different ways. While Japanese men show respect with a bow of the head, it’s customary in the United States to shake hands with both men and women in a professional setting. The act of shaking a woman’s hand and a man’s hand is essentially the same, even if the process is awkward for some people. As long as you maintain professionalism and avoid gripping the woman’s hand with too much pressure, the handshake will be smooth and natural.

Consider the woman’s culture. In some cultures, it’s not appropriate to shake a woman’s hand. This is especially important if you’re in another country. For example, in many Arab countries, it is rude to extend your hand to a woman, unless she does so first.

Extend your hand first. Typically, when you begin making the move to extend your hand, the woman follows before your hand is fully extended, avoiding awkward situations.

Grip her hand firmly but avoid coming across as overpowering. You essentially want to make sure your hand isn’t flimsy and frail feeling. Since you want to avoid gripping her hand too hard, it’s ideal to just match her grip.

Maintain eye contact. Eye contact during a handshake shows confidence and professionalism.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the woman does not extend her hand after you extend yours, simply brush it off as a cultural difference.

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