On The Hill: Radar Hill Blog

Handshake Alternatives To Avoid Spreading Germs

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If you're worried about germs and diseases, the best course of action is to not touch anyone and wash your hands frequently. But the handshake has been the introductory greeting for decades to come, so what are you supposed to do instead of that?

Try out these handshake alternatives for a more hygienic way of greeting people.

Rumours of the handshake’s demise have not been exaggerated—all across the globe, people are trying to do their bit to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Of course, it’s not just handshakes, hugs, cheek-kisses, even the classic high-five are now firmly off the table. 

Why The Sudden Change 

Put simply, it’s just good hygiene. The virus itself spreads through small particles of water that are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales.

These droplets can infect a person through contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. Making skin to skin contact between people one of the infection vectors for the virus.

Because of this, a growing number of alternatives are popping up, ranging from the professional and the practical to the downright comical and a little absurd. 

You Had Me At Hello

As ingrained as the practice has become, there’s no reason you can’t just simply stick with the classic greeting and simply just say “Hello” or whichever form you prefer.

From there, you can simply carry on as you were, or you can draw attention to the situation. There’s no harm in saying “I would shake your hand, but..” after all, we’re all in the same boat here.

Use Your Body

One of the most popular ways of getting around the handshake problem has been for people to get creative by using other parts of the body.

Dubbed the “Wuhan shake”, the practice of using an elegant foot tap has captured the imagination, and it’s easy to see why as done right it has the grace of dancing.

Done wrong, however, and you might just end up stumbling over! On the more awkward side of things is the elbow bump. While the principle is understood, there's not really any way of pulling this one off without looking a little foolish! 

Better Hand Gestures

If simply saying hello is too curt, and using other parts of the body a little too clumsy, then perhaps the perfect middle ground is tapping into the rich vein of non-verbal communication we use so frequently in other areas.

For a more casual yet still professional approach, a simple wave or even a head nod would suffice. If you want to have a little more fun with it, you can always tip your hat to the person, (if you aren’t wearing one, now may be a good time to brush up on those miming skills).

Alternatively, you could always opt for something from popular culture, like the classic Vulcan hand gesture for ‘live long and prosper’. 

Stay Safe

At the end of the day, the most important thing isn’t going to be what you replace it with, it’s all about getting the tone and attitude right.

If you’re in a professional setting and you already have an established rapport, try something that will break the ice and put everyone at ease.

Alternatively, keep things simple, a respectful nod or a wave is probably all you need for now.