Shaking hands has been a global standard for both casual and professional relationships for thousands of years. In ancient times, the gesture was used to show the other person that you weren’t carrying a weapon, and could be trusted.  Over time, the convention grew to symbolize good intentions, cooperation and trust. 

Handshaking is something we’ve all been told is important--whether it’s used in a professional setting like at an interview, or Career Fair, or it’s used in a personal setting. Our office even incorporated handshaking into workshops to help students master the not too soft, not too firm professional handshake.

COVID-19 has since changed conventional advice about the importance of handshakes as it’s an efficient way to spread germs.  What was once a gesture of goodwill could make you or someone else ill.  

While this shift is the norm these days, dodging a handshake can still be awkward. We’re here to help with some professional ways to avoid handshakes or any other type of physical greeting.



The easiest way to politely decline a physical greeting is to replace it with something else, like a nod or wave as someone approaches you.  A smile works as well, but if you’re wearing a facemask, remember the other person can’t see your mouth.  You can then put your hands behind your back, making the other person less likely to reach out. If you’re among colleagues and particularly good at maintaining your balance, you could try the footshake as seen on Tik Tok.

By making the person feel acknowledged, you’re getting a similar effect that a handshake would have.



If you’ve missed the window of opportunity to divert from a handshake to another form of greeting, you can simply tell the other person that you’re going handshake free to be cautious. When denying a handshake, be tactful.  Don’t tell people you don’t want to spread germs, implying that you’re sick, or that you don’t want to touch them because of germs, implying that they are sick.  Instead, blame the virus, say you’re sorry, but you’re not shaking hands with anybody.  Smile, and move on with your conversation.


While diverting and denying a handshake or other form of greeting may be awkward at first, the change in greetings may be here to stay.  Anthony Fauci, head of the country’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key figure in the US response to the virus, told The Wall Street Journal that he doesn’t believe we should ever shake hands again. 

We can’t predict whether the COVID-19 pandemic will eliminate the handshake, but for now we encourage your handshaking to be purely the digital kind as you search for jobs, connect with employers and amp up your online presence on your Charger Path account, powered by Handshake.