Sylvia Henderson

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SL Column: The Handshake

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The Handshake: Gem, or Germs?

     Networking seminars typically include a session on The Handshake. The American business custom of greeting people with a firm handshake was questioned quite a bit over the colds and flu season. The Donald and his “Apprentice” popularity contributed to the collective consciousness over the health threat in shaking another person’s hand. Howie Mandel, of “Deal or No Deal” game show fame also shuns shaking hands. The publicity about how we pass germs to each other when we cough or sneeze, then reach out and touch someone’s hand can have you practically seeing those microscopic buggers standing by the side of the road of your hand’s lifelines waiting to hitchhike onto the hand of the person you greet.

     What’s a person to do in a networking situation with the venerable handshake under attack? Here are some alternative greeting tips.

  • Make direct eye contact when you first speak. Nod slightly and give a hint of a smile.
  • Keep business cards handy. When you approach, make a barely-perceptible bow and offer your business card while introducing yourself.
  • Wave modestly by opening your palm outwardly and make a single pass at a wave when you acknowledge someone.

     The important aspects of any greeting are to show openness, honest caring about the other person, and respect.

     Next time you witness two bikers passing each other on the road, watch their left hands. You will most likely see them wave or hold their left arms out or down from their sides in greeting and acknowledgment. That’s the Biker Handshake or wave. No hand sanitizer needed.

Bonus gift: Additional protocol tips.

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