So You Don’t Wanna Shake Hands

Should you want to make a case for banning handshakes during the coronavirus crisis, there’s plenty of damning evidence out there to help you do it. The gesture is a super-efficient way to spread germs, given that we also touch our faces unwittingly about one or two dozen times per hour, according to studies, most often touching our eyes, nose, or mouth. Performing the perfectly unnecessary custom of shaking someone’s hand raises the likelihood that you’ll infect yourself with any virus that’s going around. Indeed, around the world, governments are recommending alternatives to handshakes (and kisses or nose-to-nose touching) to prevent the spread of the virus behind Covid-19. But none of those facts do you much good when you’re standing in front of someone, who, apparently having missed your anti-handshake nonverbal messaging, extends a palm and expects you to take it. In the moment, chances are you will return the gesture out of a sense of obligation, out of fear of looking like a jerk. What else could you do? “I don’t dare” Adeodata Czink, who runs Business of Manners, a consulting company in Toronto, says you could do this: “Put up both your hands like a five-year old is holding a pretend gun against you, and say, ‘Please forgive me, I don’t dare, I have this coronavirus phobia.’” The key to this response is tone, she says. It must be playful, which makes the image of a five-year-old posed with a squirt gun useful to keep in mind. “Make it a light thing,” Czink advises, “rather than ‘I don’t want to shake your hand,’” the latter of which is insulting and only adds to current hysteria. Another option: “Say ‘I’m so sorry, but I don’t want to shake hands with anybody,’” she adds. “Throw in the coronavirus right away. Then you have not singled them out, but the virus.” If you already have gloves on, you could keep them on and shake someone’s hand, but only if you explain, “I know it would be polite to take my gloves off, but I’ve got this coronavirus phobia,” she says. In other words, don’t pretend the weird behavior isn’t happening

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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