No matter where you turn these days, the news is terrible and depressing.  Confirmed COVID-19 cases are on the rise.  Deaths keep climbing.  Over 40 million people have filed unemployment claims.  A vaccine is 12 to 18 months away and there’s no real therapeutic in sight either.  Looking to do something entertaining like attending professional sports games, concerts, movie theatres, or Broadway shows?  Fuggedaboutit.

I don’t have the cure for the coronavirus but maybe there’s a silver lining in this cloud, which could help reduce the spread of not only COVID-19 but also the flu, other contagious diseases, and even the common cold.  What’s this miraculous drug?  It’s not a drug at all, just a simple change in a centuries-old custom that’s worn out its welcome: the handshake.

 

Are Any Handshakes OK?

The simple answer is “No!”  These days, the only safe handshakes are the ones that happen between computer systems.

But don’t just take my word for it.  No less an authority than Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says “I don’t think we should ever shake hands again.”

Outrageous, right? What would we do without the traditional handshake that begins and ends business negotiations and personal relationships?  And what will referees tell boxers before a fight? “Bump elbows and come out fighting?”

Handshakes might be the universal greeting among Westerners but they’re one of the most common ways to spread germs and viruses.  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  Let’s face it.  The handshake has run its course as a greeting, a confirmation, and a farewell.

 

How The Handshake Evolved

Historians can’t agree on whether the Assyrians or the early Anglo-Saxons invented the handshake as a gesture of good faith to show they weren’t carrying weapons…although what they were doing with their non-shaking hands is anybody’s guess.

For many, getting rid of the handshake couldn’t come too soon. Anyone who’s endured a clammy or dead-fish hand or who’s had their knuckles crushed by a power-shaker might not mourn its passing too much.

But what would replace it? All of the usual alternatives – hugging, fist-bumping, air-kissing, and back-slapping – invade our 6 feet of personal space. Waving? Nope. Showing your palm to another person is considered an insult in many cultures. The Vulcan live-long-and-prosper salute? Maybe, if your fingers cooperate.

 

10 Contact-Free Greeting Alternatives

Apologies to the Quakers who embraced the handshake as a gesture of equality, instead of the bow-and-curtsy ceremony that English upper classes favored, but its hygienic properties pale in comparison to these 10 contact-free alternatives:

    • The “namaste” gesture: hands in prayer position in front of the breastbone, accompanied by a slight bow
    • Stick out the tongue (Tibet)
    • Bow (techniques vary from Japan to Thailand, India, Nepal, Laos and Cambodia)
    • Clap hands (Zimbabwe, Mozambique)
    • Hand over the heart (Malaysia)
    • Air high-five
    • Exchange business cards (Japan, with or without bow)
    • Raise eyebrows (Micronesia)
    • Shake fists (Nigeria)
    • Optimize your email marketing program

Wait, what? What does handshaking have to do with email?

 

Perfect Your Digital Handshake!

Your email program is a big part of your digital handshake. In a world where many companies have gone months without physical contact with their customers, getting this right is crucial.

It all starts with your opt-in process and extends to every message you send. Your subscribers give you permission to send them emails. In exchange for this, you agree to honor your promise about the kinds of emails you send, how frequently you send them, how you’ll use their email address, and what you’ll do to keep their personal information safe.

You are, in effect, shaking on the deal. Both sides have to hold up their end of the handshake, though, and that’s why you need to take steps to optimize your email program. Not an easy task at a time when marketers are being asked to do more, sometimes with much less.

This is a difficult time for everybody. We all need a little help. Help with strategy. Help ensuring that our lists are safe to message and our emails land in the inbox. Help making sure that our design, copy, and targeting are on point. Help optimizing send times, choosing the right offers, etc.

In the spirit of helping, FreshAddress has compiled a list of free tips, tools, and offers for email marketers. We’ve also benefited from some of the powerful free resources made available by others in the industry like Merkle, Only Influencers, Campaign Monitor, and the AMA . Just another reminder that we’re all in this together!

 

Ready To Change The World?

If you think the days of the handshake should be over, VOTE HERE.  If you think a namaste gesture or other contact-free alternative is preferred, let your voice be heard.

Whatever side you’re on, just please don’t be offended if I don’t shake your hand the next time we meet.

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