Death of the Handshake?

handshakeWant to know my mom’s advice on avoiding H1N1 and other sicknesses? Refuse to shake someone’s hand (or at the very least, disinfect right after). Try as I might, I simply can’t get her to understand why this might not be appropriate and may even be offensive in a business setting where we are expected to shake hands with clients, candidates and associates on a daily basis.

But it got me thinking…what if the impending H1N1 pandemic really is the death of the handshake as we know it. How will people greet each other when introduced – A wave? A wink? A thumbs up? A fist pump?  Maybe it will be common to hear people say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, but I’m now abstaining from shaking hands.”

Or perhaps nothing will need to be said at all. Maybe items like these from  IAFTAHA (the International Association for the Acceptance of Handshake Alternatives – whose mission is to “promote the acceptance of salutations sans shake”) will do  the talking for us.

All jokes aside, the inquisitive market researcher in me really wants to test it out first-hand (pun intended) and see how people react if I break the shake, but the professional in me never will. So, I turned to the most authoritative sources out there in my quest to seek an answer – twitter and facebook. I created a poll and asked my friends and followers to answer. Check out the results – they might surprise you (you can vote HERE):


I’d personally be happy if someone said, “I’m battling a cold, so I won’t shake your hand.” And if I was the sick one, I’d provide the same courtesy.

Whether the handshake really will decline thanks to fears of catching H1N1 and the seasonal flu remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’ll keep my Purell handy.

Posted by Melissa Coyle

Do you agree with the poll results? Leave a comment and let me know!


1 Response to “Death of the Handshake?”

  1. 1 Tim Hurley October 21, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Interesting post Melissa. Maybe everyone will just start hugging each other upon meeting or greeting an old friend or a new one!

    I read today that Purell and other hand sanitizers are flying off the shelves already this fall. More to come for sure. Lets just hope people don’t get too crazy and start with the SARS type masks. This from MW/OAFS (man without a flu shot).

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