Body language expert says handshakes matter

Public speaking/media coach Deb Sofield shares insight on traditional greeting
National Handshake Day is a time to recognize the importance of this traditional greeting
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 6:32 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - From CEOs to jobseekers and pageant contestants to politicians, Deb Sofield has helped a wide range of people learn to make a good first impression. The public speaking and media coach is also an author, radio personality and often-requested keynote speaker.

“A handshake will tell people a lot about you in an instant,” Sofield told FOX Carolina. “A handshake is a quick acknowledgment that you have value and I value you.”

National Handshake Day is observed the third Thursday of every June. Though many people have embraced alternative ways to greet people during the pandemic, Sofield said the traditional handshake is reemerging.

“The reality is that it has come back, but if you’re uncomfortable you just need to say out loud, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind, we’ll just do the elbow or the fist bump.’ You just want to be careful because you don’t want to make somebody else uncomfortable.”

Sofield said young adults may need more help mastering the proper handshake. The generation that has grown up with technology and smart phones tends to communicate through social media apps on their electronic devices.

Addison Felkel, a 17-year-old rising high school senior, said handshakes are not common among her age group.

National Handshake Day is a reminder of how the greeting can help make a good first impression

“It’s usually a quick ‘Hi’ or you give them a hug if you’re really close,” Felkel said.

Unlike many of her peers, Felkel said she grew up spending a lot of time with adults, and her parents taught her how to greet them with a handshake. It’s a lesson that has prepared her well for this stage of her life.

“I’m introducing myself to people at jobs or I’m doing interviews for college,” Felkel said. “I know how I’m supposed to act and not a lot of my friends know.”

Sofield said it has become very common for the Generation Z population to dismiss the social customs of their predecessors.

“A handshake is a quick acknowledgement that you have value and I value you,” Sofield said. “It’s so important that parents understand that you need to start that at a young age.”