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Handshaking and the New Normal

July 20, 2020

I find that as an attorney and business owner I have been struggling with the ingrained impulse to shake hands with people I interact with. I have always been a big supporter of "the handshake". Whether I am shaking the hand of a person who has been accused of a felony, misdemeanor, drunk driving, or a person seeking my services for another matter, there is just something to be said about physical, human contact, through a handshake, especially in a professional or business setting. Not only has it been a norm of society for hundreds of years, but it has been a part of my character my entire life. It's almost strange NOT to shake a person's hand upon greeting them in my waiting room for a consultation regarding criminal charges such as operating while intoxicated, DUI, or Domestic Violence. It's strange not to shake hands upon closing a mutually beneficial agreement. I've had to yank back my hand and ask if it was ok to shake hands many times now. The habit is hard to break.

I do understand the health concerns associated with handshaking. By all means, if someone has health concerns for not wanting to shake hands, I agree wholeheartedly with their right to not shake hands.

Handshaking started in the middle ages and was a sign among warriors that they had peaceful intentions and were unarmed. The handshake itself would be impossible if the party held a weapon in that hand. Since then, it has become a common custom in the US and around the world.

After the Covid-19 pandemic ends, I sincerely hope we do not lose this custom and heritage. Shaking hands is more than just a custom, it's a way to truly connect with people and conveys warmth in a greeting that is just very difficult to recreate without the handshake.

The "New Normal" has changed lots of things, but I hope handshaking always stays with us.

-Ryan A. Slep, Esq.

Shep Legal Group, PLC graphic