When I left my first job I think I shook hands with everyone in the unit. I didn’t think twice about it, a handshake was a professional and courteous way of saying “thank you for being a good colleague”.
A few years later and I was working in the media and with that came double air kisses all round. I actually think this ramped up because of Ab Fab, in a strange way everyone was trying to emulate what Jennifer Saunders was mocking. Although thankfully we never adopted the Corsican five kisses or we would never have got any work done.
But now The Kiss has been replaced by The Hug. I noticed when I finished a recent contract that my colleagues all gathered round to hug me goodbye and a few days later at a networking meeting I was hugged “hello” and “goodbye” by the organiser. When did we start hugging for business?
I wonder if there is a connection between the increase in remote working and the increase of physical contact when we do meet? Is it that we need to prove to the other party how much we value them even though we don’t see them every day?
Discussing this with members of my network (both male and female) not many were comfortable about it. We all felt that hugs and kisses were for family and friends and very occassionaly for a colleague – usually one who has become a friend.
So I’d like to put in an appeal for the return of the handshake. It was a good enough ritual for the ancient Greeks as a symbolic way of saying: “I come in peace – look no sword”.
My Dad taught me to shake hands – take the hand confidently NOT bone crushingly and look at the person with a smile. He had worked around the world and said that it was a common currency that crossed cultural boundaries. However there are national variations – the Norwegians like a firm grip but this is considered rude in the Middle and Far East.
Only once have I had a handshake refused and that was for religious reasons.
However for all those missing their hugs there may be a compromise!
The Hand Hug.
I’m assured this is the handshake of choice for politicians, as it shows them to be warm, friendly, trustworthy and honest. This type of handshake involves covering the clenched hands with the remaining free hand creating a sort of “cocoon.”
I think I’ll stick with what my Dad taught me.