What to look for during negotiation or networking to establish rapport 
The language of the hands

We are back to meeting in person, but even if you are still meeting in Zoon, there is one part of your body, one part of the other person’s body, to which you need to pay attention if you want to create rapport and if you want to know whether the other person is creating rapport with you.


  •  Hands have meaning, showing love, care, and safety.
  • Create rapport with others. 
  • Not showing your hands can be perceived as being less open and honest.
  •  When we are walking on the street, and someone is not showing their hands, our paleo brain can perceive the other person as a threat.
  • We use it to quantify things to indoctrinate kids, and it can be used to establish better communication either in the workplace, networking or during negotiation. 


Hands are part of our body language communication.  Politicians talk with their hands, negotiators talk with their hands, parents talk with their hands, and you, you say more than you think when you are using your hands and worse when you don’t.

I still remember the old days when I was a kid and I did something wrong, [by the way most of the time] and my Mom was pointing her index finger and shaking the hand saying, “Susan, what have you done?” Do you remember those moments when you were a kid and your mom or dad did that???


The study of human behavior has changed in the last few years. One major discovery was how politicians and speakers who wanted to create rapport changed the way they used their hands when they wanted to communicate. 

In the old days, when somebody wanted to point to someone, an object, or to emphasize a fact they used to use the index finger with the hands closed to communicate it.

With the study of behavior and now the possibility to understand emotions in real-time, we found out that using the finger in that way reminds us of when we were kids and our parents were reprimanding us or saying that we did something wrong.

Now, when either a politician or speaker wants to emphasize something, the way they use their  fingers is by closing the hand, putting the thumb between the index and middle finger, and shaking the hand. See the picture below. BTW in sign language meaning the letter N


I’m a behavior science trial consultant, meaning I help lawyers, experts, and clients to better express their stories in court, as well as when they need to give a deposition and words need to align with the body. 

One phenomenon that I have observed from years of interviewing jurors after a verdict is that when someone is testifying and not showing their hands or not using their hands, they are perceived as less open and less honest, which can modify the outcome of a testimony and the outcome of the trial.

Now the opposite happens too if you use your hands in an aggressive or exaggerated way.  People are going to perceive you as lying.

For that reason, there’s a science behind any trial, and there are specialized companies like us that coach people on how to tell a better story using their hands, too. 


I don’t know about you, but I hate networking events. I’m an introvert who just happens to be a profiler, and going to a place full of people makes me anxious. Why??? I can read you even before you open your mouth. If you are like me for any reason, here is why watching your hands and using them can help you in this process creating rapport.  

  • We are coming back to the handshake. A good shake of the hand equals 3 hours of human interaction; use it wisely.
  •  A good handshake elevates oxytocin, as well as a warm and genuine smile, do it together.
  •  If you want to establish rapport with someone because you agree with them, they make you smile, or you make them smile. Creating oxytocin by touching the lower part of the arm below the elbow can help you establish rapport.  – WARNING – pay attention to the proxemic of the person before you establish any touch of physical contact. After the pandemic, people became more uncomfortable with physical touch.
  • When you are holding a cold beverage, make sure to hold it with your left hand. Why? Because sweaty hands are perceived as nervous and of an insecure person, so if for any reason your right hand is holding a drink, make sure to rub your hand either against your clothes or inform the person that your hand is wet so they have the right perception of you. 
  • Use your hands to express the welcoming and satisfaction of being introduced to someone. 
  • Use your hands to say we. Why the power “WE???  When you use your, for example, right hand to point to the other person and point to yourself and add the word “WE” in that movement, you integrate the person into the conversation and make them feel part of it which is a great way to create rapport when you just met someone. 


As we mentioned in the networking section, “WE” can create rapport and inclusion with others.

The University of Dallas did a study on couples who had only been dating for 6 months or less.  One of the people in the relationship who wants the other one to agree to negotiate or accept a term or situation did this. When they changed I want to go – to – “WE” will go or you did or I disagree – to – “WE” need to agree, “WE” should agree, “WE” should do, the terms and acceptance of anything that comes after the “WE” becomes double or triple.

So remember, “WE” is important and how we can integrate hands to be successful in any negotiation no matter if it’s for a business or for your life, it matters. 

  • When you cannot agree on a term, first point with an open hand to the other person first and after say “How can we do this?”
  • Use both hands with open palms up to emphasize when there are things that need to be agreed upon on both sides.
  • Put the two hands on the table face down when you are uncomfortable with a situation to make the other person acknowledge that this is not going the way it should be.

Using the hands, not the words, is going to make the other person doubt what they’re saying. Use it in your favor.

  • Be careful when tapping your fingers on the table when you’re negotiating. You can irritate the other person negatively, but if your desired outcome is to make the other person uncomfortable, this can help.
  • If you want to execute and show power steeple, this is the best way to really say “ I am in control”. 

We can dedicate ourselves to writing a book on the importance of using fingers, hands, and arms. I hope that this article helps you to navigate some of the options based on the situation you are in.

Remember, you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression.

When you are ready to take your persuasion to the next level. Go to:
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·       BONUS 4 – More than 200 pages of studies for you to keep.
·       BONUS 5 – Every other month, a live Open Class to practice, ask questions, and interact with your community

See you next week!!!

Susan Ibitz

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