Please, No More Handshakes

Written by: Raina Mendonça


Published on: September 15, 2022

two hands facing each other

If we had our way, there would be no more handshaking. Let us list the reasons: 1) You can transmit an infection to another person. 2) It’s gross. How many times have you greeted a stranger and been met with a clammy hand? (Or extended a clammy hand yourself?)

Every situation is different, and we all have our own preferences. But if you’re like us and would rather never shake someone’s hand again, it’s a good idea to anticipate the handshake so you can deflect quickly.

We asked etiquette experts Jacqueline Whitmore and Adeodata Czink for some classy ways to reject someone’s handshake:

  • Namaste—stand and bow with both hands pressed together at your chest.

  • A friendly fist bump.

  • Say, “Sorry, I’m not comfortable shaking hands.”

  • Smile with your eyes.

  • Try a slight bow.

  • Nod and keep your hands at your side.

  • Place both hands over your heart.

Of course, context matters: If you’re at a party with strangers, a fist bump is a safe substitute. At work, simply nodding and keeping your hands at your side might be more appropriate.

And if for some reason you just love shaking people’s hands, it’s on you to anticipate that you might be alone in that. “If you encounter someone who doesn’t want to shake your hand, the proper etiquette is saying and doing nothing,” Whitmore says. “In other words, don’t make that person feel bad because he or she won’t shake your hand.”

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