Over the past few months, we’ve had several new employees join the agency. These periods of growth are always exciting as we receive new energy, perspectives and experiences into our organization. With each new employee we craft a custom onboarding intended to help them feel welcome and supported, and get them quickly up to speed on our company, culture and clients.  

Everything begins with an in-person meeting at our offices with a few key employees, even as most of our team continues to work from home. These days, that meeting always start with some awkward hand gesture—a single hand wave, a double hand wave, an air fist bump, an air shake—out of respect for others’ personal space. Call me old school, but I miss extending a firm hand while looking an individual in the eyes.   

From my point of view, a handshake is the beginning of an understanding between two people. In a world where we operate behind screens, it’s more difficult to pick up on the subtle clues of someone’s character and trustworthiness. As great as Zoom is, it’s hard to make eye contact—is the other person looking at you, themselves, or something else entirely? As trust is declining and human connection is being reshaped, I miss the handshake.  

It’s not just me, though—the power of the handshake is scientifically proven. A strong handshake has been associated with high hireability. Handshakes have been found to amplify the positive effects of a favorable interaction and diminish the adverse effects of a negative one.  

The gesture is simple, but it conveys a lot of information. You’re signaling non-verbal cues that inform others’ judgements about your authority, status, social skills and confidence. Most importantly, they form an initial assessment of your trustworthiness. And trust is the foundation of our social order—friendships, family relationships, romantic relationships, business partnerships. Without trust, everything breaks down.  

So once the virus is under control for good and social distancing measures are a thing of the past, I look forward to once again using the handshake as a tool for building trust—with new employees and everyone else. 

“A strong handshake has been associated with high hireability. Handshakes have been found to amplify the positive effects of a favorable interaction and diminish the adverse effects of a negative one. ”