Replacing the Handshake

Perhaps I will no longer be judged by my naturally weak handshake?

Recently, I have heard multiple predictions on cable news shows that the handshake won’t survive COVID-19. People are saying that once this pandemic is over, the once popular greeting will essentially be extinct.

My days of extending my right hand might be over.

By no means will I be heartbroken if the prognostication proves correct. I have never really bought into the “you can tell a person by their handshake” adage. Besides the whole disease-spreading concerns, I think handshakes can be as awkward as hugs. But, in the same vane as hugs, although sometimes awkward, a handshake can sometimes be fulfilling.

So, if we really do forgo handshakes for the rest of civilization, I won’t miss 95% of the obligatory embraces that I would have extended if this pandemic spared us. However, for the times when a handshake could communicate emotion, warmth, celebration, and/or reconciliation––I will miss them.

I am mildly concerned about people (including myself) having the self-control to cease handshaking. Will it be easy for all of us to refrain from offering our hand when encountering Joe Blow? Perhaps an even better consideration, how will we deal with people who insist on shaking hands? I can see some pretty uneasy situations developing. But I do believe that over time, the urge to shake hands won’t feel so natural and those who are hell-bent on doing it will eventually fall in line.

I used to shake hands freely and even pose for photos while doing it.

What I am genuinely concerned about is replacing the handshake with something that doesn’t involve person-to-person contact. I do believe it is important for some type of non-verbal recognition to take place between parties. What could possibly replace the handshake?

Although I think it would be neat to invent something new, I think our best option might be something that has been around for thousands of years. I would not be opposed to adopting the Asian custom of bowing. Not only is it a beautiful gesture of respect, but it meets all physical distancing guidelines. As long as the bow is about recognition as opposed to an over-the-top maneuver that might be misconstrued as an act of worship, I think it might be the direction that we need to head in.

What are your thoughts on the handshake going away? There is no denying that is has been not just a courteous act but a powerful symbol. However, if it is going to be a casualty of the coronavirus, we need to look at other options. Don’t Blink.

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