Unsigned: Handshakes and cultural greetings are overcomplicated

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The idea behind shaking hands is all a social construct. You think your firm grip asserts dominance and makes you seem powerful. All it really does is make someone else’s hand hurt.

It’s all in the culture of your area. Some places kiss cheeks, others shake hands. There’s no one universal way to greet another person, especially through the touching that many cultures use for introductions.

What happens when you get it wrong?

There’s a whole social anxiety aspect to these physical greetings. How do you casually tell someone that you don’t want to be touched when it’s in their culture to touch you?

Beyond that, if we’re to always accept touching that we don’t want, where does the line of appropriate touching end?

The best way to avoid an awkward encounter is to assess the situation and act accordingly. If it’s a formal setting, be formal. If it’s casual, be casual. In the same way you wouldn’t grab someone’s ass in an interview, don’t shake hands at an orgy. Of course, as always, if you’re unsure, just ask for permission.

After all, these gestures are supposed to be natural. When we overcomplicate the process by thinking about it and analyzing it, that’s when our cultural gestures get complicated.

Even if you accidentally shake hands instead of kissing cheeks, we all have to realize that there’s no one right way to greet another person.

Chill out, be awkward and introduce yourself to some new people. Don’t worry too much about the handshake that starts it off.

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