The handshake is on “pause” – what to do?

Due to current Coronavirus concerns, I’ve been inundated with questions around what we should do at the moment regarding our most common greeting, the handshake.


Firstly, it is always essential when you feel sick or are suffering from some sort of illness to not touch another person via a handshake, hug or kiss.

And simply, honesty is always the best policy when declining a handshake but please say it politely. For example “I’m not feeling 100% at the moment and don’t want to share anything with you.” is a great explanation.

There has always been a lot of emphasis placed on the handshake in a professional and business setting. People often judge your competence based on the way you shake their hand. It may even affect whether or not someone wants to do business with you, but in the current situation where we have been advised globally to not shake hands…

What do we do instead?

  • Use your words – kindly! I’m so pleased to meet you but I won’t be shaking hands at the moment.
  • Raise your hand almost like a gentle wave to acknowledge the other person.
  • Just say “hello” with a big warm smile! Greetings don’t have to involve physical contact. There’s nothing wrong with verbally saying hello to someone and not taking things any further.
  • A gentle genuine nod. A nice head nod in someone’s general direction can be a cool way to greet. Make sure I’ts not aggressive. Simply bow your head.

Ultimately, right now we need to respect the genuine fears of others and do everything we can to slow down the transmission of this vicious virus.

I am still handshaking locally, I do carry a hand sanitizer and reapply this during the day as required. If someone declines my handshake then I respect their wishes and continue building rapport.

It’s not the time to put them into your “they didn’t shake my hand, how dare they” box.

Let’s hope we can get rid of this nasty virus ASAP.