Written by Peter Post

With people so much more aware of germs these days, are handshakes becoming less welcome in corporate America?

No. Handshakes are still an expected part of business greetings. Imagine leaving the person you’re greeting with his hand extended in mid-air as you refuse to shake it. Or the confusion when you present your fist instead. That’s a bad first step, and recovering from a mistake is much harder than avoiding it in the first place.

One situation where it would be appropriate to decline to shake hands is when you have the flu or a bad cold. In this case you could say, “Mr. Smith, I’m very glad to meet you. Please excuse me for not shaking hands, but I have a cold and I don’t want to give it to you.”

If you’re worried that someone you’re greeting is contagious, don’t refuse to shake. Excuse yourself to the restroom as soon as you politely can to wash your hands. You can help avoid catching or spreading colds or flu by washing your hands frequently and being careful not to touch your face. Better yet, when you have a cold or the flu, take a sick day.

Source: Post, Peter, “Etiquette at Work,” Boston Globe

For information on Emily Post Business Etiquette Programs contact Steven Puettner, Director of Sales, at Steven@emilypost.com or 802-860-1814.