Saying Hello without Shaking Hands | Handshake Alternative
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How can we greet a person without shaking their hand? We propose a contactless alternative to the handshake. Social etiquette is changing, and so too is our opinion of this western greeting. Learn our thoughts for replacing handshakes, and let us know yours in the comments below!

The world is changing before our very eyes. We are starting to question things we took for granted. What once seemed obvious is no longer certain. As societies are adapting to new norms, the way we achieve human connectivity is also evolving.

Social etiquette will be among the many aspects of society that will need to adapt to new realities. Couched within that is a realization that non-mandatory body contact when greeting each other may not be as socially acceptable as it once was.

Recognizing this, we wanted to get the conversation started about alternatives to the classic Western handshake and/or embrace. In this video, we propose a “contactless” alternative that conveys respect without risking anyone’s health.

So stick around to hear our thoughts and we welcome suggestions from you and the rest of the Explearning community! 

Now, I’ll start by saying that I’ve always enjoyed a good handshake. It’s an effective way to acknowledge the other person and lay a foundation of trust. In fact, one theory about the handshake’s origin is that it was a means of showing the person you were speaking to that you had no weapon in your hand. 

But it came about in a world very different than today, when things weren’t as crowded and connected.  

These days, a single person could give several dozen handshakes in one networking event alone. By the end of the event, virtually everyone would have made direct or indirect skin contact with everyone else in the room. 

We’re learning that that much contact comes with real health risks. 

We need a simple alternative that achieves the same goal of showing respect and establishing trust. 

Fortunately, Eastern cultures have for centuries adopted a method that does just that. We’ll be using that as our springboard. 

Ready for this revolutionary gesture? 

The head nod. 

And what’s neat about this is that there are two versions, one formal and one informal. 
Now the direction of the head nod tells all.

In casual communication settings, the direction of the nod is up. So, as you say “Hey, Sally what’s up”, you give an upwards nod. Pair this with a smile, of course.

And in formal settings, the direction of the nod is down. So you will say, Good afternoon, Leopold. And hold it at the bottom for a few seconds. The longer you hold it, the more deference and respect you are showing.

Feel free to add a slight angle to your forehead to the left or right so that it doesn’t feel too much like a bow. 
And there it is! A polite greeting that is contact-free.

Look, I get it. We’re social beings, and we like human contact.

But it comes with risks that have become all too clear to us. If you are in an at-risk demographic, or you are interacting with someone who is, it might be time to consider safer alternatives.

Now is as good a time as any to broach the subject publicly so that we can collectively decide on a solution that is both socially acceptable and low risk.

A nod is one option, but there are plenty more out there that we should consider. It just comes down to us all signing a social contract on what is best.

We have to start somewhere, right?

So now that I've shared our thoughts, I’d love to hear your own ideas for replacing the handshake. What are some other gestures for greetings and goodbyes that you can think of?

Share that with me and the Explearning community in the comments down below.

And, if you loved this lesson, please be sure to let me know. You can give this video a thumb’s up on YouTube and if you haven’t done so already subscribe to join our tribe of Explearners, so you never miss a lesson. If you ring that bell, you’ll get notified about new lessons and our weekly live streams.   

Email this video to a friend or coworker who also wants to supercharge their social skills.   

While we’re at it, feel free to also share it with your Facebook and Twitter friends as well!  

With that, have an awesome week, Explearners.   

Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson. 

Happy Explearning ⚡ 

About the Author and the Explearning Academy:

Mary Daphne is an expert in communication, executive interpersonal skills, and personal development. She is the founder of the Explearning Academy, a platform dedicated to helping individuals enhance their social fluency, boost their careers, and elevate their social game. Through immersive group coaching programs like the Executive Communication Lab and self-guided journeys, participants gain the social superpowers and career catapults they've been searching for. If you're ready to take your negotiation skills to the next level and connect with like-minded individuals, visit and explore the various plans available. Join the Explearning Academy community and unlock your full potential.

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