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Retiring the Handshake

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Once there was a time where business deals were sealed with a handshake. That was back when a persons word was good enough. Times have truly changed.


In the business world, nearly all business transactions involve a signed contract these days. A person’s word isn’t worth anything without a signed contract. So, why has the process of shaking hands continued? Tradition, I suppose.


I think it is time to retire the handshake! It is no longer necessary, and these days we need to eliminate opportunities for spreading germs and viruses.


Being a woman in the business world I couldn’t begin to count how many creepy handshakes I have had to endure. There is the Puller, when a man tries to assert dominance by using the handshake to literally pull you in. Then there is the Bone Crusher. Seriously, I have a small hand. Pulverizing my bones will not endear you to me. In fact, I think less of people that do this to me. There is the Pumper who tries to dislocate your shoulder. And then there is the Lingerer, who holds on too long.


Years ago, I was at a business meeting in which I was the only woman in the room. A director who I had never met came into the room, introduced himself and proceeded to shake each of our hands around the table. After shaking my hand he decided to call out my handshake for not being as strong as the men’s. What a misogynistic thing to say! In the years that followed I spoke to several women that had worked under that director. Calling me out on my handshake was minor compared to how he had treated them. That made me very thankful that my interaction with him was limited.


My office has suspended the

handshake. No longer do we greet customers or candidates with a handshake. If you must, then either fist or elbow bump. Frankly, I’m okay with eliminating those as well. They seem more at home in sports than an office. Maybe the namaste bow is more appropriate and it maintains social distance!

Do you think we will ever return to closing deals on a handshake? What do you think is an appropriate way of greeting customers or colleagues in a pandemic world?


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