How to Shake Hands in 2021



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Going back to the office can bring on some anxiety. Some people are worried about the commute, or the Covid Protocols, but the most common concern is the dreaded handshake. 

Are we fist bumping, elbow bumping, or are we ready to go back to the classic handshake like it’s 2019? 

This is your step by step guide on how to shake hands when you get back to the office. Let’s say you’re meeting a coworker in-person for the first time. Here’s what to do. 

Step 1: Don’t panic. Stay at a safe distance. Breathe.  

Step 2: Give an awkward wave. If they start moving towards you, indicating that they may be open to shaking hands, slowly extend your arm and prepare for contact. If you’re unsure if they want to shake hands, pull your hand back slightly and see how they respond. If you’re both teetering back and forth, that’s ok. This is the new normal. 

Step 3: As you slowly move closer to your target, remember all the things that have happened in the past year. Remember all the hand sanitizing, the gloves you used to wear to the grocery store, the weddings you’re glad you didn’t have to attend, and your sad Zoom birthday party. No one wants to go back to that. 

Step 4: Turn your hand into a fist. And then back to an open palm. Back to a fist one more time. Confess that you’re not sure what to do by letting out an awkward giggle, then cornily stick out your elbow. Warning: This may look like you are trying to do the robot. Resist the temptation to do a robot dance. It will most likely not be funny. 

Step 5: After 10 days of going over and over this awkward exchange in your head every night before bedtime, finally gain the courage to look at yourself in the mirror. Stick out your right hand perpendicular to your stomach with your palm facing inward. Then move your hand up and down. Look yourself in the eyes and say, “it’s nice to meet you.” Make this motion until it seems normal. 

Step 6: The next time you meet someone new, stand your ground. Don’t revert to the first bump, elbow bump, air five, air hug, or even a “finger gun.” Take a deep breath. Hold your hand out and confidently say, “are we doing this?” 

Step 7: Come to terms with the fact that so much has changed in the past 2 years and it’s okay to be confused. Awkward interactions are bound to happen. When in doubt, just be nice and respect people’s boundaries.