Shaking Hands Is Still Correct… Even During Cold Season

One of the most-asked questions I get at this time of year is:

Should I continue to shake hands with people, especially now that we have the H1N1 virus and other diseases I might catch?

Shaking hands is a time-honored practice. It stems as far back as Roman times, where contrary to its current meaning of a cordial greeting, handshaking was born out of a fear of the other person hiding a weapon. By shaking hands it proved both people were friendly and not about to attack.

In 21st century terms, shaking hands is also a term used between two computer systems when negotiating whether each has proper permission to do the required tasks.

We must still shake hands. How would you feel if you extended your hand and it was not returned? On this You-Tube video, President Obama appears not to be well received. While some reports state he was simply making introductions and thus was not required to shake hands, there’s no doubt it was an awkward situation.

Here’s another clip of our former President Bush where it appears he is not even attempting to shake hands with people. Again, how would you feel if someone didn’t extend his or her hand to shake yours?

In both instances, the events have reflected poorly on each president. With cameras constantly following them around, they never know who’s taping them doing an action outside normal accepted practices.
Fortunately, you and I don’t have that problem, but we must still aspire to correct behavior.

So please continue to shake hands as the physical greeting that goes along with your words of greeting and farewell. Unless there is a pandemic and national and/or global alert outlawing handshaking, it is still the right thing to do when greeting people in most parts of the world.

How you can protect yourself

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that the single best way to prevent influenza is to get the flu vaccine every year. Protect yourself, your family, and your friends with these simple steps to help stop the spread of germs:

1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and when you are sick, avoid close contact with others to protect them.

When out and about and at work, consider wearing a mouth and nose mask to help confine your germs. I know it may appear awkward at first, yet once you get into the habit of using it you’ll quickly build your confidence in knowing you are doing the right thing.

2. If possible, stay home from work, school, day care, and errands when you are sick. You will help to prevent others from catching your illness.

Here’s what gets me. People will stay home from work and school, yet they go to parties. Then while at the party, they say, “I don’t want to shake hands because I’m sick.” If you are well enough to be out at a party, you should be well enough to shake someone’s hand.

3. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue and drop it in the trash.

Never sneeze into your hand. Rather, sneeze into your forearm and sleeve of your clothing. Your clothes help absorb the germs and leave your hands as germ free as possible.

4. Washing your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze, will help stop germs from spreading.

Always carry a small bottle or packets of hand sanitizer. Use it as often as you like in discreet ways, out of sight of other people.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Sickness is often spread when you touch something contaminated with germs, and then touch your face.

Always wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after every ride in a taxi, airplane, on public transportation, and in a place where you are around lots of people.

Other ways to stay healthy during this flu season and all year round:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Manage your stress level

My hot tip to avoid getting sick: One of the best preventions I have found is taking mega doses of vitamin C and drinking ample water. Tests have shown if you take in more vitamin C than your body can absorb, it will not be harmful and will simply be dispelled from your body. Drinking water, more so than any other form of fluid, helps flush your body of toxins. No other fluids provide the same results. So, when living an active and/or stressful life, take vitamin C in both tablet form and drink several glasses of the great flavors of Emergen-C.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing the flu: good health habits for prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm

New Monthly Feature:

Question of the month: Do you have a good, bad, or ugly handshaking story? I’d love to hear it. All you need to do is simply post the story in the comments section below to share!

General Questions? I will personally reply to all your questions on international business and etiquette and protocol.

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Happy Practicing!

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