With coronavirus (COVID-19) circulating in our communities, social distancing is recommended. In Southern culture, it’s hard to imagine greeting someone without some sort of physical gesture, but you should avoid physically touching people when you greet them. Instead of going in for the handshake, the hug, or the very cosmopolitan kiss on the cheek, don’t stress. Just address the elephant in the room up front and keep it light. Below are a few responses you can offer.
- “I’m sorry. I would rather not risk spreading any germs.”
- “I’m going to protect us both from any potential germs by just giving a wave”
- “It’s not you. It’s me – I would rather not shake hands right now”
What are some alternatives to getting up close and personal?
Just say “hello”
While it may feel uncomfortable at first, it is perfectly acceptable to just say “hello”. Greetings don’t have to include physical touch and some people even prefer it that way.
A standard wave can help you communicate a greeting from far away or when you’re right next to someone. It’s a great way to say that you are excited to see them, but that you won’t be going in for the handshake.
Place a hand over you heart
According to an op-ed in the Journal of the American Medical Association some doctors have taken to putting one hand over their heart as if they are about to say the pledge of allegiance, smiling and making good eye contact while greeting a new person. It’s a great way to appear approachable and warm while keeping your hands to yourself.
Give a nod
“The nod” is a cool and casual way to acknowledge someone’s presence from a distance. It’s accomplished by simply tilting your chin up and making eye contact with the desired recipient. Congratulations! You’re now the cool person in your office.
One finger point or finger guns
If you’re looking for a more fun or unique way to greet those around you, you can try a one finger point or finger guns. Think about how your favorite celebrities might walk onto a stage to greet an audience that they can’t quite physically reach.
Nothing says, “all is good” like a classic thumbs up. Show someone new you met that you caught their name with a thumbs-up or use a thumbs up to acknowledge a great idea instead of a high five.
Build relationships with hand sanitizer
Another great alternative greeting is offering your friend, colleague or family member a little bit of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is in high demand and pulling out your pocket sized antibacterial may help you to connect with someone and prevent either person from catching coronavirus.
If you develop symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath, and you've been in contact with someone or been in an area known to have COVID-19, call Ochsner COVID-19 Info Line at 1-844-888-2772. Visit http://ochsner.org/coronavirus.