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The Handshake - Time to move on.

Dear MommaHattie,

Can we NOT go back to shaking hands?

Sincerely, Not-A-Fan

Dear Not-A-Fan,


There are descriptions of handshakes in Homer's epic poems, "Iliad" and "Odyssey." Therefore, the handshake is not something new; however, maybe it has served its purpose. Thoughts on the origins of the handshake are that it was a way to show your enemies you were unarmed as your hand was open and empty. The shaking (the up-down movement) added the ability to ensure no weapons were hiding up anyone's sleeves. In some cultures, a firm handshake is offensive; in other cultures, a weak handshake is offensive. Personally, like you, I am not a fan of the handshake for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, I feel it is a power move. To handshake, you must be in close proximity to another person. I know many people who seem to extend their backs to almost tower over another person and then add in the grip. Even if you are not the recipient, I have watched (typically men) strong-arm their handshakes. It is unappealing and makes me wonder why they feel the need to do that.

Besides being a power move, the transfer of germs is unwelcome, but it is also unnecessary. There are many ways to greet one another respectfully without ever touching. I know the trend most recently is the elbow bump. It is uncomfortable and looks silly. The fist bump? Why? If there is truly a need to connect physically, the "foot shake" could replace the handshake, though I believe that is terribly awkward, and some could have balance issues.

A simple smile and nod with your head is a perfect greeting. Whether you keep your hands to your sides, fold them in front of you, or place one hand on your heart as you bend slightly at the waist, any bow is certainly a respectful way of saying "Hello" without contact. More informal situations could utilize waving in place of the handshake. In general, I agree the handshake is outdated and unhealthy. We can evolve. We have the ability to change. Most importantly we have the ability to recognize that change is necessary. Even in the current climate, some will want to hang on to past traditions. Remember, you are not obligated to grab someone's outstretched hand. A smile and a bow or a nod will alert them very quickly that shaking their hand is not only unwelcomed it is outdated.

Love Lots; Smile Often



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