Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions



I taught people the correct way to shake hands in my etiquette classes for over 25 years.

Not anymore. 

In a world of coronavirus, our ways of interacting with others must change. The animated video of the burning matches by Spanish graphic designer Juan Delcan illustrates how social distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from everyone else – can help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.  

I love the handshake. It allows you to connect with and touch someone in a non-sexual way that establishes a bond and an element of trust. It promotes equality, too, as both men and women shake hands. But there is no touching in a social-distancing world.

Yet eliminating the handshake from our world does not mean it’s time to stop connecting. Today, relating to others is more important than ever, as many of us are working from home and feeling isolated from colleagues and friends.  

During this crisis, I encourage you to use other greetings. In my international etiquette class, I teach that there are four key greetings around the world. The two that involved touching clearly should not be used: the handshake, and hugs and kisses. The other two are the bow, and the namaste (hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, with a slight bow). Either of these can be used to acknowledge others if you are taking a walk for exercise, or video-chatting with colleagues or friends.

You could also wave. Acknowledging someone with a wave can go a long way in letting people know you are pleased to see them. Plus, it’s important to smile. I know that these are tough times, and right now it may not seem like there is a lot to smile about, but connecting with others is one way we will get through this crisis. (In Italy, residents gathered on their balconies to publicly praise and thank their medical caregivers, and then joined in singing popular songs that echoed from building to building across the city! It was such an uplifting sight, videos of it were shown around the world.)

I don’t know when social distancing will end. Soon, I hope. And when it does, I look forward to shaking your hand!

Additional information about greetings and your career can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success (McGraw Hill). 

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business etiquette, presentation skills, professional presence and business writing. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at or 856.751.6141. 

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