Sunday 18 August 2019

Ian O'Doherty: Forget hugs, is it time to ban the curse of... the office handshake?

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Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

You know the drill, we've all been there.

You meet a colleague, put your hand out to shake theirs just as they open their arms to give you a hug and the two of you flap awkwardly for a couple of seconds.

It can be a little uncomfortable and we all have to navigate the fine line between being too touchy-feely or coming across as aloof and standoffish.

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Most (reasonably) mature adults have accepted this is simply the way the way the world is - some people are more tactile than others and as long as they're not trying to cop a quick feel or something equally gross, we just get on with the business of the day.

Or maybe not. A new survey has just been released which claims that three quarters of those surveyed would like to see a complete work place ban on any sort of contact at all.

Really? Are three quarters of the working population so utterly freaked out by the thoughts of a handshake or a hug that they would actually like their bosses to ban all touching?

I'm not so sure. I'm not much of a hugger, so I wouldn't miss having to dodge an unexpected embrace.

But handshakes? Has the culture become so neurotic that we see a mere handshake as some egregious breach of our personal boundaries?

People communicate through more than words, we look people in the eye when we speak and yes, we need to be able to shake their hand on occasion.

A third of those surveyed also said that their "well-being has been affected by an unwanted greeting".

Maybe those people should get out a bit more. Actually, maybe they should stay in more. Because if you can be badly affected by even a simple handshake, you probably aren't cut out for the workplace.

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