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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ask me any question

I feel as though I'm channeling Dear Abby today, as I pass along this question from a concerned reader:

So Jack, seriously -- with a potentially dangerous flu season coming up, I'm wondering how to politely deflect an outstretched hand.

I work in hospitality and sales, and even though I hate shaking hands with people under any circumstances, I really don't want to after reading about how easy the swine flu spreads. In the course of a day, I have guys of all races and backgrounds coming at me for a greeting, and I can't have my reluctance misinterpreted. And I can't do an Adrian Monk (wipe!) after every handshake.

Is there any agreed-upon protocol in the professional workplace that can be widely communicated via your blog to avoid any hurt feelings/rejection?

Offhand, the best I could think of would be to tell people, "Sorry, I think I'm coming down with the flu, and so I had better not shake your hand. I don't want to get you sick." Then make a little bow.


Comments (13)

Jack you are right. I do that anyway when I am not feeling well as a matter of courtesy.


A kick in the rotten tomatoes outta do it.

Two words: Purell.

As a current cancer patient, well into the immune-impaired phase, I try to remember to keep my hands away from my face when I'm out, and wash often. And I've been carrying around a sample-sized bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket. Recoiling a bit from the hugs and kisses that some people not part of my usual circle seem to want to give me to show their concern. More than that is so far more than I can handle mentally.

If you listen to my crazy in-laws, they're convinced the world is going to end because of the flu, and are just going to be holed up inside for the next 9 months.

I do that anyway when I am not feeling well as a matter of courtesy.

Yes, but now I suggest doing it even if you are not ill, as a precaution. Is that kind of little white lie o.k. as an ethical matter?

Bring gloves back into fashion! Gloves used to be worn whenever out in public. I'm sure the style evolved for a reason -- same reason we're facing now.

You work in hospitality and sales and hate shaking hands with people under any circumstances? My advice is to change your career.

And, if you really are sick think you may be sick, I don't want to be around you - handshake or not.


I would personally love to see an eastern Asia style bow come into vogue.

Definitely. The reason why Japanese live longer than we do may have nothing to do with their diet or their genes, but simply that they don't shake hands so much.

In my martial arts school, we would always bow and shake hands when paired up with a partner or competitor while training, and we would rotate those students a lot, so one would come in contact with about a dozen hands per class. Then a couple of nurses joined the school and totally balked at the idea. After giving it some thought, we decided to just go with the bow and forget the handshake. Our loss of students to illness during the subsequent cold and flu season plummeted dramatically, so the policy now has stayed in effect for a decade.

Ask me any question

Will I get **** this weekend?

You can't go wrong with a nice, long, sustained kiss on the mouth instead.

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