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The Fall of the Handshake

The Fall of the Handshake

November 20, 2009

At a recent conference, the emcee announced that some attendees might be reluctant to shake hands (with all of the media talk about colds and flu) and suggested it was perfectly acceptable to find an alternative greeting such as the fist bump. At first, I thought this was kinda weird. I mean, a public declaration that it’s OK not to shake hands? I always thought it was a business taboo not to shake hands.

This week’s Dilbert cartoon got me thinking. Is all of this talk about germs, colds, and flu ushering in new forms of greeting others?

Archaeological research shows handshaking was practiced as early as 2nd century BC. Since then, we’ve put people in space, created Google, and use plastic cards to pay for stuff. In all of this time, you’d like to think we could come up with something more interesting than the handshake.

And, for something that’s been around for literally centuries…we still don’t do it well. There are numerous articles, classes, and videos on how to shake hands. You’d think by now we ought to be able to get it right.

If we don’t want to shake hands because of a potential germ factor and we don’t know how to shake hands…let’s find something we’re all able to do, aren’t afraid of doing, and can do well.

So my vote is for the fist bump. Here’s why:

    — You don’t have to worry about sweaty palms, limp wrists or someone sneezing in their hand and extending it to you.
    — It’s been around at least since 1982 when Jeff Spicoli used it during Fast Times at Ridgemont High. So it’s almost 30 years old…not as old as the handshake, but it’s still established in its own right.
    — The President and First Lady know how to do the fist bump…so we know our supreme leader and his wife won’t embarrass us at global and national social events.
    — Even the Dalai Lama knows the fist bump.
    — Lastly, the fist bump already has a national holiday on June 3.

Drop me your thoughts below about retiring the handshake and making the fist bump our universal greeting. Maybe you have a better option than both of them? Anyone who comments by Sunday, November 22 will be entered in a drawing to win the book Igniting Gen B and Gen V: The New Rules of Engagement for Boomers, Veterans, and Other Long-Termers on the Job by Nancy Ahlrichs.

Related Reads:
Flu Spreads New Etiquette
5 Ways to Really Tick Off Your Employees
10 Body Language Blunders
Mind Your Manners For a Good First Impression

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