Replace Handshakes and Hugs with One of These Greetings

Two monks greet each other as they pass.These guys totally nail remote greetings. Radiokafka / Shutterstock

For the foreseeable future, maintaining social distance and not shaking hands or cuddling is the new standard. So how can you greet someone without breaking the six-foot barrier?

Aside from a nod or a verbal greeting, you could tell everyone to “live long and prosper”, but not everyone can do the same. Hi vulcan.

Before CDC recommended everyone stays six feet apart to avoid spreading the coronavirus, people are already finding new ways to avoid shaking hands. Some people have tapped their feet together or knocked their elbows together, but now even that is not recommended.

Let’s take a look around the world to find other ideas.

Greetings from around the world

A firm handshake or hug can be the motto of social reception in the United States and in most Western cultures, but it is certainly not the only way to greet someone.

In many other cultures, you don’t need to touch someone (and transfer your germs into the process) to greet them. Let’s see some examples.


Thais have an excellent greeting that you could adopt during this troubled time. Wai is a way to say hello, goodbye, thank you, and even I’m sorry. It is a greeting of respect, so keep it for those who deserve it (older family members, your boss or teacher, or the people you serve). To do this, you hold your hands in the prayer position in front of your chest and nod your head (see the video below).


In Japan, handshakes are also a common greeting, but people often also accompany them with a bow. You can adopt a bow as a greeting and leave the handshake aside to maintain a safe distance.

There are different types of arcs for different situations, including greeting a friend or associate, or saying you are sorry. Watch the video below to learn three standard bows.


If you’ve ever seen the movie Seven Years in Tibet, you will probably remember when dozens of Tibetans stick out their tongues to Brad Pitt (see video below).

It may sound like an eccentric greeting, but it’s actually a centuries-old tradition. To prove that they were not the reincarnation of a cruel king, the monks stuck out their tongues. How does that prove it? Well, according to legend, the king was so cruel that he had a black tongue!


In Zimbabwe, they greet each other with a form of applause called “ombera”. It is used to say hello and thank you, and men and women perform this clap differently. Women clap with cupped hands instead of flat palms to create a more muffled and delicate sound.

Interestingly, the louder the clap, the more you respect the person you greet. Watch the video below to see how to do it.


Staying six feet apart is pretty easy when greeting someone in Malaysia. To say “Welcome”, they simply touch their hands to their hearts (as we do in the United States during the “Oath of Allegiance”), then bow slightly. Keep eye contact and make sure you smile warmly! The video below will tell you everything.

Just because we can’t shake hands or hug each other doesn’t mean we can’t greet each other warmly. Instead, use one of these warm and safe gestures. You never know, you could even start a new trend!

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