Most conversations that matter -- with the father of the girl you're dating or the guy who signs your paycheck -- begin the same way: A handshake. And now there's proof that the simple gesture really is the best way to win someone over.

A new study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that a handshake leads to a more positive interaction with someone. Researchers at the University of Illinois analyzed the behavior and brain activity of 18 people who rated videos of interactions -- starting with or without a handshake -- on competence, trustworthiness, and an interest in working together.

The results? Ninety-four percent of people rated handshake interactions positively. That's because when a handshake precedes an interaction, two parts of your brain -- the reward center and the social cognition network -- collaborate and produce a positive thought, says study author Florin Dolcos, Ph.D., an assistant psychology professor at Illinois.

So how do you perfect the firm, yet friendly handshake? We asked body language expert Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma. And it turns out, it's just three quick steps.

1. Start Early
Offering your hand early makes it clear you're prepared and confident. When you're 5 to 6 feet from the person, strike out your hand, Wood says. But instead of putting out your hand so your fingers are pointed at the person, tilt them downward so you can scoop up into the other person's hand for full palm-to-palm contact, she advises. You'll appear open and honest and avoid the awkward fingers-only grab. (Get more cool tips like these delivered to your inbox every day when you sign up for our free Daily Dose newsletter!)

2. Apply Pressure
Every handshake has a leader and a follower -- so your role each time is situation-specific. Wood says you typically follow the host (he extends his hand and you reciprocate), but if you're at a sales pitch and want to make a soft yet authoritative gesture, take the lead. Then, gauge how much pressure your partner puts on your hand and do the same: "You want to be in sync with the person that's shaking your hand," says Wood. Stuck shaking hands with someone who's crushing your bones? Don't pull away. Instead, use Wood's trick: "Shift your weight on to your right foot. Your hand goes a little bit forward, and they'll loosen the grip." It's an attack move that's so subtle, your partner won't even notice.

3. Lock Eyes (Briefly)
Eye contact during a handshake should last 3 seconds, Wood says. That's the typical marker when people will either blink or turn away. "Men really play 'scare-out' -- who's going to be the first to blink or look away," she says. Don't be that guy who gives a quick glance (weak) or stares for 5 seconds (creep). Need more ice-breaking advice? Learn How to Talk to Strangers.

Bonus: Don't Forget the Goodbye Handshake
It's just as important as the first one. Think back to high school sports: You begin with a handshake, tough it out, then finish the same way. Wood says this one signals, "We're buddies again. Fight's over. Game's over. Fresh start next time." Plus, if you gave a wimpy attempt the first time, consider the closing shake a way to redeem yourself.

More From Men's Health:
-- 6 Habits of Great Bosses
-- 5 Ways To Ruin A First Impression
-- How To Negotiate Your Starting Salary

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For some people, wearing nothing but a "onesie" in the workplace would be utterly embarrassing. For New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, it's "team building."

As it turns out, Ridley owns quite the collection of onesies, or as he calls them, "Teletubby outfits." And so the second-year back out of LSU thought it would make for good fun if he and New England's five other running backs donned the outfits around the locker room.

"I had to get them into the running backs room and have them try ‘em out,” Ridley said. "It's just kind of a small joke, put some smiles on the faces in the locker room. It's a team thing."

And the running backs didn't just wear the onesies, they owned the onesies. Shane Vereen tweeted this photo of the guys in the outfits, and they look pretty good.

The next challenge is getting coach Bill Belichick out of his hoodie and into a onesie.

"I'm trying, man," Ridley said. "I'm gonna do my job and try, let's put it that way."

In all honesty, Ridley would probably have an easier time convincing Rob Gronkowski to swear off partying, but it never hurt to try.

(H/T to CBS Sports)

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You never know what you'll see, both on and off the field, when you watch the Oregon Ducks.

During the fourth quarter of Thursday night's blowout of the Arizona State Sun Devils, the cameras caught one Oregon fan rocking a beard that matched the Ducks' uniforms-- neon yellow and green. No word on whether this beard was sponsored by Nike.

The fan, as well as his female friend, were appropriately dressed for the contest. He was wearing a tie-dye t-shirt along with some funkadelic glasses while she had a neon green wig.

We've seen other fans sport facial hair tributes to their college teams, but this is an entirely new level of dedication.

(H/T to Yardbarker)

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The Phoenix Suns veterans told rookie guard Kendall Marshall after the squad's first practice that they had a surprise for them. He asked if it was a good surprise or a bad surprise.

That depends on how you look at it.

The Phoenix Suns presented Marshall with a trio of embarrassing children's backpacks from which to choose, and he selected one with a Justin Bieber design. The accessory is meant to embarrass Marshall, but the former North Carolina standout is not fazed.

"I feel like I can pull of the J-Biebs," Marshall said.

Marshall is not the only rookie to receive a Justin Bieber backpack, and far from the first newcomer to have to wear an embarrassing bag. Marshall, however, is determined to pull off the backpack.

"I'm going to make it a fashion statement," Marshall said. "I'm going to wear it all the time to the point where [the veterans] are going to be mad, like, 'This doesn't faze him.'"

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