The traditional handshake. We do it because our parents taught us and their parents taught them to do it. Its common origin is in Roman Military greeting 2000 years ago to show that you were unarmed and to convey trust, respect, agreement and equality. Throughout the ancient world, the handshake appears on vases, gravestones and stone slabs in scenes of weddings, gods making deals, young warriors departing for war and the newly dead’s arrival to the afterlife.
Today, Westerners and Europeans accept it as a ‘normal’ greeting but in places like Japan and many Asian countries it’s still a relatively new concept that the locals may have only seen on Western television. While handshaking is traditionally comfortable for Westerners and Europeans Covid-19 has made it potentially lethal because of germ transfer.
Handshaking featured on an ancient Greek coin
When we emerge from the Covid-19 Pandemic, many people will be apprehensive about handshaking or may completely reject the concept.
Medical experts and world leaders are now telling us to refrain from these important Body Language behaviours. American Dr. Anthony Fauci, says we may never shake hands again when life returns to ‘normal’ after coronavirus and the French president says no more kiss greetings for French people as this gesture has contributed to the number of deaths in France and Italy.
The Directors of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in the USA say changing our greeting behaviour is difficult because shaking hands is the go-to method of greeting people and alternatives like fist-bumps and elbow- bumps can be awkward, especially in professional settings.
So, what is an alternative greeting that will make you feel welcomed and accepted while avoiding disease issues?
So far, suggestions include:
The Elbow-Bump: This is awkward, breeches physical distancing and we are also being told to sneeze and cough into our elbows! And most people don’t take it seriously.
The Fist-Bump: A macho gesture that still involves the transfer of germs.
Foot Tapping: A gawky move that looks like a silly version of River Dance.
Hand-Waving: At close range, this communicates ‘stay away’.
(Image: © CBS Broadcasting)
The Vulcan Greeting: A Star Trek move based on a Jewish blessing that is difficult for most people to do and lacks professional credibility.
Our polls have revealed all these alternatives are unpopular.
The world needs a new, long-term greeting solution – and we’ve identified it. We recommend the use of this powerful body language greeting which can be used universally, is disease-free, but still makes people feel welcome, accepted, and connected.
We call it the HEART-HELLO. And here’s how it looks:
See the Video Demonstration here: https://youtu.be/2BzMl5wB9TU
The Heart Hello achieves several things – first, it makes the other person feel welcome and accepted. Second, it maintains physical distancing and it’s germ-free. And third, it allows you to read the other person’s full body language signals, which is not possible in an up-close handshake.
To perform this greeting gesture, you do the following:
1. Place your hand over your heart
2. Smile (with your teeth visible) and lean forward
3. Maintain eye contact with the person you’re greeting
Smiling with your teeth displayed is a gesture used by primates to convey they are non-aggressive. Leaning slightly forward avoids you being perceived as dominant and maintaining eye-contact allows you to remain connected to someone while not appearing to be submissive.
Changes in our body language behaviour are usually subtle and it often takes generations to establish or modify gestures. In today’s unprecedented times of Covid-19, we have seen a dramatic shift in a matter of weeks of people’s perceptions in greeting each-other. And change is now being forced upon us because of this disease. It’s time for the traditional handshake to be modified – or even eliminated – because of health issues.
The HEART-HELLO gesture perfectly replaces the traditional handshake and can bond you to others instantly, and even more effectively than a handshake.
The HEART HELLO is sincere, warm, germ-free, respectful and makes others feel welcome and accepted. You will not be perceived as being weak or submissive and you still have the opportunity to read the person’s entire body language. It will give you the confidence you need in meeting new people and will remove the fear, uncertainty and awkwardness most people currently feel.
How to get the HEART-HELLO started:
Tell your friends, colleagues and workmates how you will now greet them and why you do it this way. Teach them how to do it to avoid awkwardness. If a stranger reaches to shake your hand, simply perform the HEART-HELLO and say “Let’s avoid Covid!” and laugh. This avoids uncertainty and embarrassment. Explain why you are greeting like this – you’ll discover that most people are usually intrigued and grateful for your explanation.
Just because the Roman soldiers and Greeks did it 2000 years ago doesn’t mean we have to risk our health today. It’s time for change.