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Why People Shake Hands in Business Meetings



Recently, I have been reading Simon Sinek's book "Leader's Eat Last". When I got to chapter 5, I was fascinated with the scientific and biological facts he shares about human behavior. He claims that during the Paleolithic Era, our bodies were created for one purpose, our survival. Humans, unlike other creatures were gifted a neocortex which allows us to think and solve complex problems, communicate in a more advanced manner than any other specie and it also allows us to rationally work together and protect each other. The bottom line is that humans were made to be social. That is why we enjoy living together, dining together and being together. It's in our biology!

These facts of life made me think a lot about leadership and teamwork. I am a big believer that trust is the foundation of both leadership and teamwork which then made me think about the act of shaking hands. Why do great leaders shake hands after an agreement? In the book, Sinek explains that we have a chemical in our body called Oxytocin and it is responsible for our ability to connect with others and create loving and trusting relationships. When our body feels as though it can trust someone or something it releases Oxytocin into our system. The physical act of shaking hands then demonstrates our social willingness to trust one another. In most cases, the hand shake is more binding then the written agreement.

I encourage you today to take a few minutes and really think about the word trust. What does it mean to you, who do you trust and which relationships might you need to work on trust with? I say this because in order to lead others you must be able to influence them and trust is the back bone of influence!

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