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The secret to a perfect handshake!

Perfect handshake

Since touch is the most powerful and primitive nonverbal cue, it’s worth devoting time to cultivate a great handshake. To perfect your handshake it is a good start to learn about the types of handshakes and their meaning. This way you can consciously choose which type of handshake to apply for different people. It might take some practice but if you apply the knowledge from this article you are on the way to your perfect handshake!


The perfect handshake, is it possible?

Shaking hands is a remainder of the earlier ages. When primitive tribes would meet in friendly or neutral circumstances, they would reach out with the palms of their hands facing forward. This was to prove that they did not carry or hide a weapon.

Even though most people have continued to shake hands in modern years, many of us still have not mastered the art. Most people don’t think about what they do with their hands or how they shake someone’s hand. However they don’t know that a perfect handshake can give you instant credibility. Alternatively, a wrong one can cost you the job or the contract. So, no “dead fish” or “bone-crusher” grips, please.


three perfect handshake
The perfect handshakes

Even so, the first time you shake someone’s hand determines if there will be a case of dominance, submissiveness or a neutral playing field. If you do it right you will make a strong first-impression or you will close a deal. However if you don’t do it right, your colleagues might start talking behind your back or your customer will run from you!

In this image you see the three main types of handshakes. I will explain what each of these handshakes communicates. These are the basics of handshakes and body language, however it is important to know everything about the basics before you move on to more complicated things.


The dominant handshake

You can display dominance in your handshake by turning your hand in such a way that your hand palm is positioned facing downward. Your hand palm does not have to face all the way down but when you put your hand on top of the other person’s hand you communicate that you want to lead the conversation.

In the first picture you can see that someone is clearly trying to take the control. This is because he positioned his hand is on top of the other person’s hand. If your hand is on top it communicates that you have direct authority over the other person.

If you going into a negotiation with the owner of a company, I recommend not using this handshake. Unless you truly have authority over the other person it could communicate that you’re trying very hard to look dominant. This handshake will suit you best if you are a very confident individual.

It is much more manipulative to give the neutral or submissive handshake. The dominant handshake is a very bold move and it’s hard to hide. Only use it intentionally and definitely not by accident!


Submissive handshake

The opposite of the dominant handshake is the handshake where your palm is facing upward. You can see This is the perfect handshake if you want to give the other person the lead in a conversation or situation. It could also be used for different situations. For example: if you would like to apologize to someone in your business network, you could greet them with the submissive handshake. If you need to apologize to someone you could also consider thinking about where you will sit and your posture also has a big influence on how your message comes across.

This type of handshake has a specific purpose but I don’t recommend using it all the time.


Neutral handshake

The neutral is a great option for meeting casually or when you don’t have any specific intentions with this person. The neutral handshake, as shown in the image above, is established by a firm vertical grip. When no one is in the dominant or submissive position, the neutral handshake is achieved.

On average the handshake of a man is twice as strong as a women’s handshake. Therefore it is not a surprise that you often hear women complaining that they squeezed their hand too hard. The man’s hands have evolved to pull, throw and hit things with over 45KG of force but in business there’s no need to crack someone’s bones! To create a feeling of equality during your handshake it is important to apply equal pressure compared to the other person.

Bonus Tips:

  • Don’t forget to make eye contact. I always make eye contact until the other person looks away but do whatever suits you best.
  • The way you can manipulate the handshake to your favour is by going in for the neutral handshake and once you are connected you then turn your hand to the position that you want (upward or downward facing palm).
  • The most important tip that I can give you is to practise with your friends and family and asking for feedback.


Read more articles by Sam Lucas here.

On the Facebook page, the articles are posted regularly if you would like to be notified when there’s a new post!

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Where to sit in a business meeting

Where to sit in a business meeting

Do you know where to sit in a business meeting?

Where to sit in a business meeting? If you asked this question then you already know that not all chairs are equal. Where you are seated in a formal meeting shows a lot about your status and it could influence your relationships with your colleagues. Learning where you should sit and what it communicates to others is extremely valuable for your long-term personal development. Because remember: it’s not about what you say, but where you sit!

As children we have learned to pick up on several social cues to ensure that we comply to the norms around us. One of these cues is known as the power seat. This is the seat that we unconsciously see as the one that has the most authority. In this article I will demonstrate where the power seat is located at three common types of tables.

The rectangular table

First the rectangular table, often a bureau that is used for work-related occasions and short meetings. At a rectangular table everyone has the opportunity to share their opinion on a topic and direct eye contact is encouraged.

where to sit at a rectangular table
Where to sit at a rectangular table.

If you imagine a formal setting, and I ask you what type of person sits at position 1. Does this person look more like an intern or the owner of the company? The point is, where you sit makes a difference. You can influence the different types of situations or reactions that you get from the people sitting around you by strategically choosing where you sit.

What your seat says for you

If you sit at the head of the table you unconsciously or intentionally are sending the following messages to the people around you:

  1. You are in control.
  2. You’re the leader of the group.
  3. You are trying to intimidate someone in your group.

Another option could be that you just paid attention when reading this article and next time at a dinner you quickly claimed the head of the table because no one but you had thought about it beforehand. Either way you will still feel the difference when you are sitting in position 1.


If you sit in position 2 you send a different message:

  1. You are more approachable.
  2. You’re a part of the team.
  3. You are ready to collaborate or openminded.

The messages that you send unconsciously are very subtle, but you will notice a shift in power dynamics from those around you. So to answer the question: where to sit in a business meeting? It depends on the behaviour that you are looking to induce.


The round table

The round table, this is often a coffee table and is usually combined with couches or comfortable chairs. A round table is often used to create an informal and relaxed environment or to convince others.

Where to sit at a round table
Where to sit at a round table.

King Arthur used the round table to provide equal distribution of authority amongst his knights. In theory everyone is equal when seated at a round table. However, in practise the authority distribution changes when someone with higher status or authority is present. The closer you are positioned to the ‘king’, the more power you will have.

In a one on one conversation, if you position your chair at an angle of 45 degrees it also creates a more informal environment. A good time to use this technique is at an annual result assessment.


The square table

The square table causes a few effects. It will often provide you with support from the person(s) next to you. However you will receive resistance from the person in front of you. When there are four people seated at a square table, everyone is facing someone in front of them. This is not benefitting your business whatsoever. If you are still wondering where to sit in a business meeting, I hope you are not asking this at a square table! Square tables belong in a cafeteria.

Where to sit at a square table.
Where to sit at a square table.

Why any drink can result in closing a deal

Sometimes knowing where to sit in a business meeting is not enough! However, offering someone something to drink during is an excellent tool to analyse how the other person thinks about you or your proposal. The way you can analyse this is by paying close attention to the placement of the drink after the other person took a sip.

Someone that is not convinced of your proposal will often form a barrier with their drink by placing it in front of their body. If the person is convinced or likes your idea they will often unconsciously place the drink beside them. Also if they cross their arms, it makes it extra difficult to maintain this posture with a drink in front of you. As you can imagine they have to uncross their arms to take a sip, if they keep their arms crossed while reaching for the drink it would look quite strange.


Bonus Tips:

  1. If you encounter a table where you are unclear where the power seat is located, and you forgot where to sit in a business meeting, it is possible to create the power seat by moving your chair back a little compared to the other chairs. This creates a center point that indicates authority. Just make sure that you don’t pull away too far because it might send unwanted signals. If you pull your chair back too far it might look like you are trying to remove yourself from the conversation. It could also appear like you are uncomfortable.
  2. At tables or in meetings you will often see that people who favour one another sit next to each other. As opposed to people who have an altercation to take care of, they will often sit opposite each other. If you are having an argument with someone and you want to stop fighting with them, sit next to them at the table. It will already send a different signal than sitting opposite them. However do not assume that this is the solution in every situation!
  3. Before choosing your seat, another thing you could take into account is the location of the walls. If you want to give the other person a safe feeling, best would be to make sure their back is facing a wall. This will calm them down.

Read more blog posts by clicking here!

If you are interested in learning more about body language and other business theories I recommend this book:

Article written by: Sam Lucas

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Posture for success

great posture for success

Your posture and the way you use your body has a deep effect on your mood, self-image, energy and could lead to, or prevent, many physical injuries. Being aware of your body language and using it to your advantage also boosts your level of confidence. When you are feeling self-confident it feels easier to sell your product, expand your network or even to persuade and influence people. Changing your posture is a small step and a good step to start with if you are just getting into personal development. However if you have already started with personal development it is still a very important thing to be aware of.

If you are interested in learning about body language I recommend this book:

Great standing posture

Stand tall with good posture. Status, power and confidence are displayed non-verbally through the use of height and space. Keeping good posture, with your shoulders relaxed and your head held high makes you look sure of yourself. If you stand with your feet close together, you might appear hesitant or unsure of what you are doing. However when you widen your stand, relax your knees and centre your weight in your lower body. You will look more solid and confident. If you stand you will look more powerful and assured to those who are seated.

posture improvement
Improving the way you stand

Body posture could also increase performance for the long term and physically it avoids unnecessary injuries such as back pain. Not having any physical injuries allows you to focus more intensely on the things that really matter. Now that you are fully aware of the dangers and benefits of posture. I would like to show you several ways to improve it.

Improve posture through self-reflection

One way to become more self-aware of your body language is by analysing your posture right now. Are you satisfied with your posture? In this image below you can see what good sitting posture looks like.

Posture improvement
Improving the way you sit.

Especially now, when so many of us are sitting at a desk all day, it’s important to follow these basic guidelines. Both for your posture and for your physical health. If you work long hours at a desk and have the option, use a chair that’s designed for proper supporting you based on your height and weight. If this is not an option, try using a little pillow for lower back support. Next, align your back with the back of the office chair. This helps avoiding slouching or leaning forward, which you may find yourself doing after focussing intensely or sitting too long at your desk. If you work on computers at an office, position the monitor on an angle a bit more upwards than you would if you were in more of a slouching position. This will force you to sit upright to see the screen better.

Lastly it is important to keep both of your feet on the ground or footrest (if your legs don’t reach all the way to the ground). This provides you with a more stable posture that is easier to maintain. If you learned something from this blog, there are a lot more blog posts to read!

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Are you playing the infinite game?

sam lucas personal development

Every single bankruptcy happens because the company ran out of the resources or will to play so they drop out of the game.  But the game itself will persist and another company will fill their space because it’s not like the business stops or that the industry ends. And the people that play the infinite game will frustrate companies that are playing the finite game. This is a quote from the book ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek.

Infinite game and the finite game

In a TED talk by Simon Sinek, he speaks about how game theory influences leadership and modern companies. In game theory there are two main types of games, finite and infinite games. Let’s start by defining the differences between the two.

A finite game is played to win. It is a game with known players, fixed rules and an agreed upon objective. For example a sport like soccer: we all agreed to the rules, we all know who scored the most goals at the end of 90 minutes wins. No one ever says ’Let’s play an extra 45 minutes because I know we can come back!’ That just does not happen, the game ends.

An infinite game is played with known and unknown player, the rules are changeable and the objective is to keep the game in play, to perpetuate the game. The infinite game will keep going until one of the players no longer has the will or the resources to keep playing.

Companies that play different games

Simon Sinek, the creator of this idea, spoke at two different major technology companies and out of respect for both companies I will name them Company 1 and Company 2. 80% of the executives at Company 1 spent most of their presentation on how to beat company 2, their competitor. Over at Company 2, 100% of the executives spent 100% of their presentation on how to help teachers teach, and how they could help students learn. One was obsessed with their journey, with their cause, and the other is obsessed with their competitor. Guess who is frustrated with their competitor? Company 1.

At the end of the presentation at Company 1 they gave Simon the new audio player that they created and it was amazing. Very logical in its use, intuitive and beautifully designed. Now at the end of the talk for Company 2, Simon shared a cab with one of the senior executives and he told the executive about this amazing new audio player and stated that it is much better than theirs. The only thing that the executive said was: ‘’I have no doubt.’’ Conversation over. Because the infinite player understands that sometimes your product is better and sometimes it is not. Sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are behind. The goal is not to beat your competitor, the goal is to outlast your competitor.

infinite game symbol

The difference of being an infinite player

You will see that the infinite player does not compete against others, they compete against themselves. Finite players wake up every single day trying to beat their competitor. However, the infinite player wakes up says ”How can we be a better version of ourselves? How can we improve our metrics how can we make our products better than they were last week?”

It’s fine to study the competition tactically, but the number of companies that study their competitors strategically blows my mind. They look at what their competition is doing and they make sudden sharp left or right turns to change the course of their company based on what the
competition is doing. That is what wastes resources. The constant changing direction, the constant changing of your mind wastes resources.

Written by: Sam Lucas

Original TED Talk: