Quick, you’re about to be introduced to a new person, you see them approaching and as they do a wildly messy sneeze erupts and they catch it with their hand. What to do? What to do? Does etiquette dictate you actually have to shake that slobbered upon hand? Not necessarily.
You don’t have to risk your health or comfort level to satisfy every social protocol. However, if you wish to still appear graceful and kind it’s best to approach the situation in a way that doesn’t offend or draw attention.
Whether it’s because the hand in question is covered in germs, dirty, or you simply have an aversion to human contact there are a few simple ways to avoid handshakes without offending.
Put the blame on yourself, saying you’re sick.
By stating that you yourself are ill or coming down with something and don’t want to get them sick, then you spare yourself by appearing to spare another. Now you don’t have to act sick as a dog, but to follow through with this plan, fake a little sniff here or there just to drive the point home.
Give a quick and friendly wave.
If you immediately lift your hand and give a quick little wave a handshake will seem unnecessary and most likely they’ll give you a little wave back. If you take this approach be sure to accompany the wave with a friendly genuine smile. You want to give the impression your just a bubbly happy person and waving is your natural greeting.
Blame it on your nails.
Ladies are very fond of manicures, it’s a well known fact. Simply say, “Oh I’m sorry I’ve just gotten my nails done, they’re still drying.” Ok, it’s a little far fetched but if you’re desperate… At the worst they’ll just think you’re high maintenance and last minute.
In cases where it’s a serious or ultra professional matter such as meeting the CEO of your company or giving condolences at a funeral then it’s best to suck it up and shake any hand that comes your way. Just keep some hand sanitizer in your purse to discreetly use afterwards.
HOMEWORK: Have you ever been in this “sticky” situation? What have you done to get out of an undesirable handshake?