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The Virtual Handshake?

The Corona Virus has got us all paranoid.  We, from the West, are so used to the shaking of hands and more recently the kissing on each cheek (blame the French and Italians for that!) to greet one another. 

The handshake can say much about a person’s confidence: intention, control, fear, intimidation as well as a certain lack of respect.  There is so much body language that is expressed through the shaking of hands.

I have to say that at Toastmaster’s tonight, I’ve been encouraged to elbow bump or foot tap and whilst this is amusing – I don’t get the point.  As a Toastmaster, the shaking of hands transfers the ownership of the ‘podium’ to the invited speaker.  It’s an important etiquette.

The purpose is to convey trust, respect, balance, and equality. It forms an agreement, the agreement is not official until hands part.  A foot tap or elbow bump really doesn’t do it for me.  So what now?

I went to Japan last year and was mesmerised by the beauty of the Japanese behaviour in every respect – there is so much I’d love to say if I just had the time.  However, for the purpose of this blog, I want to praise their greeting.

いらっしゃいませ irasshaimase is a welcome, the greeting comes with a polite bow.  What’s more the bow takes its place as a ‘thank you’ and also “you’re welcome”.  We found it fascinating how the Japanese would continue the greeting – challenging who will be the last to bow. Loved it!

A more formal situation is called gassho, a Japanese word that means “palms of the hands placed together.” The gesture is made as a greeting, in gratitude, or to make a request. It works when you are meeting online too.

For me this works as a formal gesture of greeting.  I like this.  It works with my sensibilities.  Sure, I can high five or elbow bump with certain of my clients.  But seriously! A foot tap?  Honestly?  With these legs and … in these heels?

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