Did You Really Think We’d Stop Shaking Hands?

Skift grip

Humans are meant to be together, especially when it comes to business. We yearn to see each other’s face in person. And we want to touch and shake hands.

Caroline Kremins

The act of shaking hands dates back to medieval times when the world was a more dangerous place. It was a way to make sure your arms were free of anything that was meant to harm others.

Millennia later, the Covid pandemic hit and we found ourselves anxiously sanitizing everything from packets of potato chips to our own children. As we finally began to come out of our isolation, there were some awkward moments about how to greet each other. Why on earth would we allow our sanitized selves to even consider touching another human’s hands, especially their sweaty palms? Who knows what dangerous bacteria may be hiding there? Could a simple handshake itself transmit a potentially deadly virus?

We seem to have decided that from now on, a proper 21st century greeting would forever be replaced by the fist bump (or nudge). The first few times we laughed at the exchange, but it slowly became part of the “new normal”.

Fast forward a year. I just got back from there Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai, a tourism fair attended by 30,000 people. Do you remember the Covid pandemic? No sign here. The show was so crowded that foot traffic had to be diverted to alternate aisles as some areas were so dense that the pedestrian traffic jam kicked off. Without any necessary proof or mandatory masks, we were breathing our necks in a sea of ​​humanity without knowing who was fully vaccinated. You were on your own to navigate at your own comfort level. A small minority, maximum 10% of the crowd, wore masks. As a fresh 4x “vaxxer” I made my own rules and wore the mask when moving from pit to pit, but took it off once I got to the pit. On, off, on, off; like jumping from one piece of land to another to avoid alligators in a ditch. Somehow, even though the pits were packed, my own invented rule allowed me to believe I was protected – which, of course, is nonsense.

The biggest surprise, however, was the touch of the hands. There was no hesitation and certainly no nudging or punching; just good old fashioned sprouted hands. I must have shaken hundreds of hands over the past few days, combined with a few hugs, and with each one I thought of this canned travel antigen test waiting for me in my hotel room, praying to test negative so I can go home. UNITED STATES.

This trip has crystallized some things. Humans are meant to be together, especially when it comes to business. We yearn to see each other’s face in person. And we want to touch and shake hands.

The learning is that there will be a time and a place for each individual to come to terms with their own level of comfort when we return to these types of shows and other public events. But get ready because the only thing I can assure you is that the handshake is coming back. So be sure to bring your Purell.

Caroline Kremins is the president of Skift who, before the pandemic, flew 100,000 air miles a year to represent Skift around the world.