The End Of Handshakes?

from Seth’s Blog

In the future, of course, there are no handshakes. Star Trek, Star Wars, even Spaceballs… no one shakes hands.

And handshakes haven’t been the standard default for as long as we think–they were codified by the Quakers five hundred years ago, because they were thought to be more egalitarian than tipping a hat or bowing.

Today, of course, a handshake is often seen as a threat more than a disarming form of intimacy and equality.

More here.

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58 Responses to The End Of Handshakes?

  1. Bart L. April 9, 2020 at 11:50 pm #

    Long lasting trends and norms are being completely broken by this new epidemic spreading across the entire world. Being a business major, a handshake is the first breakthrough and impression you have to enter the business world. All networking events and job opportunities require this trend and is a basic norm to build a connection with another person. I find it really bizarre that such a simple and authentic gesture will now be changed to adapt to the current global situation. The new restrictions put into place from stopping the spread of contamination of the COVID-19 virus, has turned up a unique new way to greet each other. All across the globe, this new form of gesture has changed the way of greeting and although may seem odd, is crucial to the survival of thousands and even millions of people. In the article Elbow bumps are the new handshake, here’s why, it states, “Everyone from high-powered political leaders and health officials to professional athletes have taken on the tactic to safely say hello without making too much contact”. The thought of such rapid change from such respected and influential individuals has represented the severity of the situation. The virus has impacted the world for almost months and has the potential to continue for years to come. This tragic scenario has directly impacted physical contact between humans that would have seemed normal before, such as the handshake. This new trend of elbow touching is the replacement for the handshake that has proven to reduce the spread of germs and other contaminants to help slow the current issue at hand. This drastic and harsh implementation could even impact the disappearance of the handshake and continue onward with an updated version to greet one another of the elbow touch. In this article, Seth Godin makes the prediction, “Hat tipping might be making a comeback”. I agree in the sense a new form will appear of human interactions, but only time can tell which will catch on enough to create a permanent mark in the history of simple physical connection.

  2. Mike B April 10, 2020 at 2:07 pm #

    When Cal Ripken, Jr. was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I remember one of the recurring characters from those who played with/against, or simply met him, was his handshake. Whether it was shaking hands with other players before or after the game, or meeting people outside of it, the theme was that he looked you right in the eye and gripped your hand like a vise. It was imparted to him from his father or grandfather, that that is the proper way a man shakes another man’s hand: you look him in the eye and give him a firm grip.
    Even at the time (over a dozen years ago), I mused about whether or not he would apply the same technique when shaking a woman’s hand. After all, in the last several decades the number of women in the workforce – especially in elevated and supervisory roles – has increased dramatically.
    Admittedly, I was often unsure as to whether or not a handshake was appropriate when meeting a woman – not because of any kind of feeling of superiority or misogyny, but because I would tend to defer to her to see if a handshake would be offered. It seemed much more of a rote action, when meeting another man, to offer a handshake. Should a handshake be offered, I was ready to meet it, but I found that it was not as regular an occurrence, and that my leading with the handshake offer was sometimes met with curious hesitation.
    There are also all kinds of satellite issues with handshakes. What if you have sweaty hands? The “cold fish” grip is a reputation that can precede someone prone to it. Then there is the matter of inconsistent time and motion of the handshake. If you go in slightly late, you may not get a good grip, and thus have a sort of finger-squeeze handshake situation. It could be awkward if you’re shaking hands with someone and your mutual timing of the release is off – leading to one person pulling away before the other lets go.
    Overall, though, it is probably fine for the handshake to disappear. In addition to COVID-19, there are a myriad of other things that can be spread by touching hands with other people – the common cold, the flu, e-coli, etc. Moreover, I would doubt that there has ever been a person who has been to a public restroom that didn’t observe someone using the toilet/urinal and then leaving without even glancing at the sink.
    Asian cultures do not shake hands, as many of them offer bows. The military salutes. Fighters grip each other by the forearm (ostensibly so their opponent doesn’t injure their hand, I assume). Most casual greetings can be completed by a simple wave, with no contact.
    So, while I have not seen any vociferous arguments against the extinction of the handshake, and have no real desire to create such a silly straw man, I feel like it is fine if it disappears.
    We can always keep the high-fives for special occasions, anyway.

  3. Michael Horn April 10, 2020 at 10:50 pm #

    To think that this could be the end of handshakes is i fathomable. Handshakes have become a normal custom for people of ages especially in interviews. Now especially with this Covid-19 pandemic no one is willing to shake hands because of the fear of contracting the virus. As well as the laws in place that enforce social distancing. I could definitely see this being the end of handshakes as companies will take more stronger precautions in allowing people onto the building. The threat of the virus will definitely influence how people interact with others going forward.

  4. Brittany R. May 30, 2020 at 8:15 pm #

    It’s crazy to think that handshakes could come to an end. Handshakes have many different meanings; for example, during a meeting when you just finished a deal, meeting someone for the first time, congratulations, expressing gratitude, and much more. But they always say good things come to an end. But is this a good thing ending? I do not think so; being a business major, handshakes are essential in the business world, whether greeting someone or saying goodbye. All events and job interviews require handshakes. When you give someone a handshake, you are making a connection, and it’s a simple sign of respect and gratitude.

    Since COVID-19, many things have changed and become the new norm. Getting rid of handshakes and relying on another gesture like elbow bumps could be the new norm. Since many businesses moved online and are doing conference calls, nowadays, no one can give a handshake; they are relying on a smile, a wave, or an oral statement.

    What stood out the most to me in the article was, “In addition to being a vector for disease transmission, handshakes reward a certain sort of powerful personality and penalize people who might be disabled or uninterested in that sort of interaction. And judging people by the strength of their grip doesn’t make much sense anymore.” When someone is disabled and can’t give someone a handshake, do they get judged? What happens if someone makes up their mind on a deal all through handshakes, they aren’t even given a chance. Overall, I believe that getting rid of the handshakes has its perks for everyone. There are other and safer ways to express gratitude, greetings, and much more.

  5. E Farrell June 1, 2020 at 4:20 pm #

    The current pandemic has caused havoc around the world, and with how easily the virus can spread, the idea of handshakes could be coming to an end. As a business major, handshakes make an impression on an employer and other people in the business world. No matter if it is shaking someone’s hand to introduce yourself for an interview, making a business deal, or closing on a deal in the business world, all of these actions are signified with handshakes. Handshakes are pivotal when it comes to meeting employers at interviews, career fairs, etc., but in an epidemic, like we are currently in, we have to take all the proper precautions in order to keep everyone safe.

    Throughout the course of the past few months, we have a new norm, where we have to social distance, can’t touch others, etc., so with these rules implemented, we have to resort to other methods. For example, instead of people shaking each other’s hands, many people are using their elbows as an alternative to stop the spread of germs and not risk contracting the virus. While many people are going to take not shaking hands as a way that the other person does not want to interact with them, it is not merely for that reason, as it is more for a health reason. After going through a pandemic like we currently are, we have to have implement ways in which people can stay safe when they are in the presence of others, so if that means taking away a handshake, and replacing it with waving, the tapping of an elbow, or the tipping of one’s hat, it is a way to protect one and other. While I don’t think we will eliminate handshakes forever, I do believe that we will be implementing various other alternatives to handshakes in order to assure the safety of others.

  6. Safiyya B June 5, 2020 at 7:14 pm #

    Due to the current pandemic, it has created chaos amongst our world as it has shifted the way we do day-to-day activities. Many companies have shifted to working from, my sister’s company plans to continue working from home until at least December. While some places are starting to re-open, such as restaurants and stores, social distancing is still enforced.
    As a business major, we are taught that a handshake makes a good first impression and is expected in almost every situation upon first meeting an individual. This will change the way we are taught and will have to adapt to the new norms of the ‘social distancing age’. Although handshakes are built into the American culture, we can still find different ways of introducing ourselves or greeting others. As mentioned, elbow taps, waving smiling, are only a few ways where we can introduce ourselves when meeting someone.
    I think it is important that while we transition back into somewhat of a normal lifestyle, we still take necessary precautions. I do not think the elimination of handshakes, at least temporary, will be detrimental. There are others we can make a good first impression by just a simple smile and wave.

  7. Christina F. June 5, 2020 at 10:53 pm #

    I think this article poses an interesting question as to whether or not the antiquated use of handshakes will be surpassed by a new form of greeting as the world faces a long term pandemic and health crisis.

    Firstly, I think the article makes an excellent point about the modern perception of handshakes. They often have a meaning and stigma behind them and with Covid-19 encouraging us to all stay apart, more and more people are stepping away from the handshake. However, I think the period of Covid-19 will have the greatest impact on whether or not the handshake is here to stay. The longer Covid-19 has us all distanced from one another, I think the more likely it will be that the handshake will lose popularity as a gesture. If we look at potentially years of social distancing, it is likely that a new gesture of welcome will slide into society. The younger generations were already moving away from handshake greetings but it was still the standard within the business world because it was universally understood and considering a professional way to introduce yourself. As we distance, it is likely that the handshake will exit the business world.

    However, an equally respectful and professional greeting will need to take its place. Many cultures have varying levels of formality and companies did international business, the handshake was universally accepted as a respectful greeting to international business associates. To see the handshake truly disappear, we need an equally respectful but distanced greeting to take its place and unfortunately I don’t think the Vulcan welcome will make the cut but I am curious to see which greeting will grow in popularity as Covid-19 creates the absence of the handshake.

  8. Rajat Sinha June 12, 2020 at 5:07 pm #

    As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, young college graduates are not entering the workforce as early as they expected. Although most may have had plans to enter the respective career of their choice after completing the necessary higher education requirements, they are still being held hack from harnessing their potential because of the economic damage the virus has caused to the United States economy. However, it should be noted that this pandemic will not last forever as more and more states are beginning to reopen for the summer, (which in turn translates to most college graduates being able to attain the career they seek). Yet, despite that many businesses are taking the lessons they learned from this pandemic to heart and many professional employers are starting to disregard handshakes in the business field. For many it is to avoid potential transmission of the virus and to avoid displays of dominance and intimidation in the field. After all, according to The University of Texas at Austin’s article titled, “The Loss of Handshakes is an Opportunity for Connection,” “The well-documented guidelines of avoiding handshakes are no joke…Hands are an efficient vehicle, an absolute Ferrari, for the transmission of infectious disease”. This concern may be well-founded due to the current circumstances of the world at the moment, yet handshakes shouldn’t be disregarded so easily because they have a long and storied tradition in American society. According to the popular Internet blog, Seth’s Blog, it is to be assumed that: “…they were codified by the Quakers five hundred years ago, because they were thought to be more egalitarian than tipping a hat or bowing.” Not only does the history of the tradition factor into the reason why handshakes shouldn’t be abolished but, the fact that one can easily wipe their hands clean with hand sanitizer or washing their hands directly afterwards to avoid infection is common knowledge. These reasons may be credible to fight those who argue against the use of handshakes, however, they are not the main argument for why they are necessary in traditional American society. Essentially, handshakes are necessary in the professional environment of business due to the essential role they play in formal business negotiations in being sociable with professionals and coworkers. Therefore, they should not be discontinued due to personal fears during the coronavirus pandemic because of their use in: creating good first impressions on future employers and being useful in negotiations of business deals.

    Primarily, it should be mentioned that handshakes have been a necessary technique that business professionals have been utilizing for generations in order to gauge many factors related to the potential capabilities of their employees such as: making appropriate first impressions. The importance of handshakes in the business environment should not be underestimated due to its long and varied history as a traditional form of communication between professionals in the workplace. In fact, according to the renowned business journal,, in the article titled: “Why Your Handshake Matters (and How to Get it Right),” it was stated that: “While analyzing interactions in job interviews, management experts at the University of Iowa declared handshakes ‘more important than agreeableness, conscientiousness, or emotional stability”. In other words, recruiters and interviewers for top careers in business stress the importance of a good handshake over most over favorable qualities they’d look for in potential candidates. The handshake is an essential part of communication for large companies to get a sense of the person they are interviewing. Specifically, handshakes are one important factor in how companies gauge the talent of their future employees by the quality of the handshake. For according to, an important website in detailing the many aspects of the small business environment, in an article titled, “Importance of a Strong Handshake in the Workplace,” it was excerpted that: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression in business…A strong handshake sets the tone and perception of your abilities”. Thus, handshakes are an indispensable technique in one’s skillset that can be utilized to provide further benefit to them in their professional career path. Different handshakes can produce different first impressions among many professionals and are open to various interpretations. One example of this from the article, “Why Your Handshake Matters (and How to Get it Right),” is: “The Dead Fish-a limp, lifeless hand extended and just barely shaken…”. This improper handshake technique gives off the first impression of a weak-minded individual. Essentially, by not grasping the professional’s hand hard enough, the candidate is displaying a lack of confidence in their abilities and this may translate to an interviewer or recruiter dismissing the candidate as being too weak to handle the job. Another example of improper handshake technique from the article, “Why Your Handshake Matters (and How to Get it Right),” would be: “The Knuckle Cruncher: The grip may be a demonstration of machismo, but it could also be a result of a person genuinely unaware of his (or her) strength”. This improper technique is the opposite of “The Dead Fish”. This improper technique employs too much aggressiveness and over confidence in the approach, which makes employers less likely to hire the candidate due to the perceived stubbornness and force behind the handshake. If one wishes to be hired by employers they need to have a firm, yet loose handshake that doesn’t lead to over compensation or underestimation of their future abilities. The proper technique in accordance with the article titled, “Importance of a Strong Handshake in the Workplace,” from states that to: “Impart a strong first impression on customers, business prospects, hiring managers or new employees by offering a hand and introducing yourself…This type of introduction bolsters your image and sets a solid foundation for a new job or business relationship”. All in all, a proper handshake must create a good first impression on employers and set a good reputation for employees. And if not for handshakes being utilized in the capacity of a professional business environment, potential candidates would have less of an ability to make good first impressions on future employers and future employers would have less of a technique to gauge the skills of potential employees in their interviewing and recruiting process.

    Furthermore, while handshakes are essentially important in the use of making a good first impression, they are also significant in professional negotiations with clients. Employers use the art of handshakes to gauge the talents of potential employees and learn more than they can from a brief glance of a resume or cover letter. However, employees can utilize the technique of handshakes in more ways than one. Not only can employees use handshakes to communicate an appropriate first impression to employers, but they can also utilize the technique in their future job to negotiate with future clients. According to the article titled: “Importance of a Strong Handshake in the Workplace,” from “A strong grip and a penetrating eye gaze set the tone for hard line negotiations…You must also be willing to signal your willingness to compromise or reach a beneficial agreement through a strong yet warm handshake”. Negotiations are a difficult aspect of business that are unavoidable for all who enter the field. If one is trying to sell a product to another, or if one is trying to have a client sign up with a financial institution, the operation must be handled with the utmost caution. In order for employees to properly “seal the deal with their clients’ they should use the art of a proper handshake to communicate the trust they offer to the client as well as the hard line stance they will take on the issue to gain the client’s business. Not only that, but handshakes are also, useful in a sub-category of negotiations of self-promotion. Essentially, while negotiations involve talking out a deal with the client. Self-promotion involves displaying one’s importance to the cause. Self-promotion may sound vain as in the employee is forcing the client to accept their business as an act of to further their own professional career in the company. However, the act of self-promotion through a proper handshake is much subtler and amicable by all standards of professional communication in business. As excerpted from the article titled: “Importance of a Strong Handshake in the Workplace,” from “A strong handshake may help land you a job, gain a promotion, or score a client…The right touch allows you to indicate your self-motivation, desire to achieve and assertiveness”. Overall, if not for the technique of handshakes existing in the proper business environment one would not be able to properly exemplify their success or negotiate terms and agreements with clients properly. And as such, employees would have a much more difficult time of doing their work.

    In summation, without handshakes existing in the professional business environment, nonverbal communications on all levels would be fractured and complicated. Although handshakes are very much a factor in the spread of disease during the coronavirus pandemic, they should only be limited and not banned entirely. Handshakes are a necessity to proper communication in the professional business environment through the methods of negotiation and self-promotion for employees working with clientele and dignified first impressions from employees to employers to demonstrate opening engagements. If handshakes are to be banned after the end of this pandemic, then how will employees, employers, and clientele globally acknowledge one another without barriers of culture, language, and politics impeding them?

    My Sources:





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