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How to make people like you with just a hand shake

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Can you make people like you with just a handshake?

Sabine Koch, from the University of Heidelberg, discovered you might be able to.

She trained a group of experimenters to shake people’s hands in one of two ways. Some of them learnt how to shake hands in a smooth flowing way, while others were shown how to produce more sharp up-and-down movements.

This team of handshakers then shook the hands of almost 50 participants. After each shake, Sabine Koch asked participants how they felt. Compared with those subjected to the spiky handshakes, those who had been subjected to the smooth handshake were happier, felt psychologically closer to the experimenter, and rated the experimenter as more likeable and open.

Compared with those subjected to the spiky handshakes, those who had been subjected to the smooth handshake were happier

Compared with those subjected to the spiky handshakes, those who had been subjected to the smooth handshake were happier

The smooth handshake had made participants behave in a way that is associated with happiness and this had, in turn, made them both feel better and think more of the person they had just met.


To replicate one of Sabine Koch’s “smooth” handshakes, hold someone’s hand and move your hand up and down in a slow flowing motion. At first the movements will appear artificial; however, with practice they will feel more natural.

Focus on recreating the “smooth” hand movement. Once you are confident, use your Koch-shaking abilities to create a good impression.