Are you as flummoxed as I am about what type of greeting to extend to the people that you see during a given day?
A business encounter is easy. A firm handshake covers it, plain and simple. Even if I know the person socially, I get downright irritated if someone tries to kiss me hello. For business, follow the three foot rule, shake hands and keep your mouth off me. The grip must be firm, not bone crunching, and dry.
But this is nothing new. Emily Post, the original etiquette blogger, posted her perfect advice on the Personality of a Handshake way back in 1922.
A handshake often creates a feeling of liking or of irritation between two strangers. Who does not dislike a “boneless” hand extended as though it were a spray of sea-weed, or a miniature boiled pudding? It is equally annoying to have one’s hand clutched aloft in grotesque affectation and shaken violently sideways, as though it were being used to clean a spot out of the atmosphere. What woman does not wince at the vise-like grasp that cuts her rings into her flesh and temporarily paralyzes every finger?
The proper handshake is made briefly; but there should be a feeling of strength and warmth in the clasp, one should at the same time look into the countenance of the person whose hand one takes.
This chick, oops, lady, I don’t want Em turning over in her grave, is talking my language.
The slippery slope, however, comes into play at semi-social settings, like your kid’s sporting events. Shocking as this must sound coming from an Italian girl, I see no reason to hug and kiss everybody hello and good bye. I’m known to dole out bear hugs and kisses, just not to the entire town. In my opinion, a simple, warm direct hello, while maintaining eye contact, is perfect.
So, I pondered an acceptable alternative salutation to the obligatory hug and kiss fest.
The problem with advocating, handshakes for all, is even the lawyer in me realizes this greeting is too stuffy in semi-social settings.
I thought about giving people high fives but that’s more of a celebratory sports move.
The popular fist pump might be a good substitute. No doubt it spreads less germs but essentially it’s a young person’s greeting.
Too bad we can’t salute one another! The message is clear and respectful with zero body contact and awkwardness. The problem is only military folks and the President can use it.
There had to be another option and then it hit me. Why not use a head nod! I can thank the Big Irishman, hubby, light of my life, and ball and chain for that idea.
The Big Irishman can walk through the door at the end of the day and give me a head nod. A quick tilt up of his head in my general direction. The Irish in him does this partly to annoy me and partly because except for Christmas and birthdays, his clan is averse to dolling out hello kisses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to do it on the granite counter-top, but is a hug and kiss on the lips after a day apart, asking too much? Fifteen years later and we’re making real progress on the appropriate hellos between loved ones.
Plus, he just may be on to something Everyone understands a head nod is an informal way of saying hello. You can throw in, “Hey, how you doing?” never expecting a reply, in fact, etiquette discourages long winded answers.
You move on, and we’re all good.