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   Thoughtscape: Thoughts and Tips from Mike Clayton


Issue 19

  Holding Hands
Physical Contact and Business Etiquette
    News and views



Dear %1

Yesterday was St Valentine's Day; I hope you enjoyed it. No one knows the origins of our now traditional festivities, but the injection of cash into the floristry, greeting card, confectionery and catering industries will surely guarantee their survival.

Physical contact is a no-no in western business etiquette, except in on ritualised format: the handshake.  It is an essential skill to have, and often forms the basis of a lasting first impression.  But did anyone ever teach you how to shake hands?  My experience is that around one person in ten says yes to that.  So let's address it now, for the other nine.

1. The Hands
Think of your hands as a vital tool of doing business and look after them accordingly.  Keep them soft, clean, and dry.  Avoid excessive numbers.

2. The Fore - play
If you're sitting as someone approaches; stand up.  Make eye contact, smile, and say hello.  This is the start of a connection.

3. The Approach
Initiate the hand shake  by putting out your hand, thumb up, fingers closed, and perpendicular to the floor.  Have your arm extended, but not with a locked elbow.  Start at about a metre distance and close up a little as your elbow bends a little more.

4. The Grasp
Firmness of grip is important, but more so is holding "web to web", with the webbing between your thumb and forefinger firmly in contact with theirs.  A firm grip in both men and women is most likely to be perceived as a sign of openness and extroversion.  Nobody enjoys a limp grip and neither do we want a crushing match.

5. The Overclasp
The overhand clasp with your left hand will most often be perceived as intrusive, overbearing and patronising.  Save it for when you have a genuine position of authority, such as when congratulating a subordinate on  receiving an award.  Other wise leave it to politicians.

6. The Elbow
Another patronising grip best left to politicians is the elbow hold.  This is a control gesture and will make the other person feel you are trying to dominate them..

7. The Shake
Put energy into your shake to show commitment, but not so much you risk a dislocation.  Therefore, shake from your elbow: not from your shoulder.  Two or three shakes (or "pumps") is enough.  Hold for 3 seconds and keep eye contact while you do so, then...

8. The Release
Be the first to grip and the first to release.  As soon as you feel a loosening of their grip, release yours.

9. The Wipe
I'm sure you wiped your hand before shaking, if it was even slightly damp.  But what if they didn't?  never wipe your hand after shaking until you are well out of sight - it can give real offence.  If, like Donald Trump (reportedly), you fear germs, get over it.  No one dies from the millions of  handshakes every hour and, if they have germs on their hands (they do), it's too late.

10. The Notice
Finally, notice the shake.  What can you learn from it.  If you shake at the start of a meeting and then again at the end, you have comparative data.  Was the shake longer, firmer, closer at the end?  If so, the meeting went well.  If quicker, looser, at greater distance, you need a new plan.


Learn more about the science and skills of influence and persuasion.

"I've always put it down to that rather nebulous characteristic of 'charisma', but Mike Clayton shows us in this fascinating book, that there is an art to the ability of influencing people and situations. There are techniques to follow, examples to inspire and practical step-by-step strategies to try out. "

Brilliant Influence



My friend Judith used to like these newsletters.  Very sadly, Judith died
on 30 January and I miss her. 
If you knew Judith, you may like to
look at my tribute to her,
"In Memory of Judith Wilks".


Two Seminars you may like

Brilliant Influence
Ten Secrets of Persuasion

"Highlight of the conference & one of the best presentations I have seen by far."

Brilliant Team Leadership

Mike Clayton's seminar on "Effective Leadership" was excellent, ... interspersed with humour which made the presentation more engaging.
So new it's No.17 and not yet on my website

These are two of the 17 seminars* I am currently offering.  Here is the full list:

  • Three hour MBA

  • Seven Ways to get More from Your People

  • Seven Ways to get More from Yourself

  • Brilliant Influence:
    Ten Secrets of Persuasion

  • Brilliant Project Leader

  • Brilliant Team Leadership*

  • Brilliant Time Management

  • Faster, Better, Cheaper

  • How to Read People

  • It ain't the Stress that does the Damage

  • It won't work because...
    Handling Resistance to Change

  • More than just Survival:
    Thriving in Times of Change

  • Practical Decision Making

  • Practical Problem Solving

  • Practical Project Management

  • Risk Happens!
    Control Risk and Avoid Failure
    in Organisational Projects

  • The Seven Rules of Project Management

* Brilliant Team Leadership is not yet on the website

Learn more on my website.




Brilliant Project Leader

I have been talking a lot this last month about leadership.  Two of my most memorable opportunities were in the same week.  First, I spoke at a quarterly Top Achievers seminar, talking about team leadership, and later that week, revisiting former colleagues at Deloitte, the Programme Leadership team, I spoke at the dinner of a training programme on project leadership.

Brilliant Project Leader
"I found this book packed with leadership tools and insight that have clearly been proven in the real world" Amazon review

Top Achievers  MD, Peter Haddon, asked me to focus on the day's theme of leadership and I was happy to take the opportunity to develop a new seminar for the Top Achievers group. 

Brilliant Team Leadership is available as an in-house seminar from April.  Contact me for details if you're interested.

"Mike Clayton's presentation to the
Top Achievers seminar on
"Effective Leadership" was excellent, combining the right blend of information delivery with practical assignments for both individuals and groups to reinforce the content.
This was interspersed with humour which made the presentation more engaging.  I have no hesitation in strongly recommending him for talks, workshops or seminars."

Peter Haddon, MD of Top Achievers


Learning at Work Day

Many businesses arrange events to mark Learning at Work Day - this year on 17 May, with the theme "learning for growth".  Some organisations even have seminars and courses all week.  I've just taken my first booking for that week, but 17th is still available - as are other slots.  Contact me to discuss which seminar would suit you best, or see the list on my website.

Learning at work day is supported by Pearson, publishers of four of my books, including...


Brilliant Stress Management
Brilliant Time Management
One of Amazon UK's best selling Time Management books

All of my books are available from Amazon


Who Else?

If you like these newsletters, please forward this to a friends and colleagues who might value them too.

If you are that friend or colleague and you want your own copies, just drop me an email.


Seminar Programme

Of all of my seminars, The Three-hour MBA was the big success in 2011.  I created it for the Bite Size open programme, and rolled it out in the autumn.  It's back in 2012.

There is a calendar on my website, with all of my open seminar dates. There are currently 30 dates in my diary. Please note the venue change for 22 March.  Coming soon are:

Brilliant Time Management (mornings), and
The Three-hour MBA  

  • 20 March, London,
  • 21 March, Guildford,
    Ramada Hotel
  • 22 March, St Albans,
    Quality Hotel QH Centre

Practical Project Management
along with
Risk Happens! Control Risk and Avoid Failure in Organisational Projects (afternoons)

  • 21 June, London
  • 26 June, Manchester,
    Renaissance Hotel
  • 27 June, Birmingham,
    Copthorne Hotel
  • 28 June, Guildford,
    Ramada Hotel

Download a table of all of the scheduled dates here.  Book on 01227 252 100.

The Three-hour MBA, has been a great success as an open event, with some cracking feedback.  I am taking bookings for in-house seminars. 

“Packed in a significant portion of powerful management advice into such a short time frame. Many of the tools were familiar but linked in this way gave them added value to me.”
Chris Self,
Millwood House Consultants Ltd



In the last month, I was busy delivering tried and tested seminars:

  • Brilliant Time Management
  • The Three Hour MBA
  • Handling Resistance to Change

This month, I am focused on writing my new book for Pearson, due out in September. This is a step into a new arena and a new style of writing for me.  It is coming on well.

Next month, we will start promoting my biggest launch yet, an innovative title for Marshall Cavendish, due to be published on 7 June.  It will be something rather special.  The website will go live on 7 March and 3 mini-eBooks will be available pre-launch.


My focus this year ...
... continues to be on writing, responding to press enquiries, and seminar and speaking engagements.  If you know a conference organiser who is looking for an engaging speaker with great testimonials, please do send them to my website: www.mikeclayton.co.uk.  If you need a speaker now, just contact me using the links below, or the contact form on my website.  You can download my speaker pack here.

Best regards


I recognise you get a lot of email and I don't want to add unwanted inbox clutter.  I intend to give useful tips and thoughts, but if you don't wish to get any more, I will understand, so just click the "no more emails" link and they'll stop.

Many thanks

    Please contact me ...
... mike@mikeclayton.co.uk
... Tel: 08444 141349
... www.mikeclayton.co.uk
... on Twitter @mikeclayton01

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© Mike Clayton, 2012