#6 ASK KATARINA: Can I avoid shaking hands? 🤝

#6 ASK KATARINA: Can I avoid shaking hands? 🤝

Hello Katarina,

''I recently saw your post on how to shake hands properly. As a Muslim female, shaking hands is not something I prefer doing. Is there a way to avoid it politely without insulting someone? Thank you!''

Dear F. A.,

Thank you for your question!

When I teach etiquette, I usually focus on Western etiquette as that is the one I studied in the biggest detail. However, that doesn’t mean that Western etiquette (including shaking hands) is the only ’’correct’’ etiquette out there.
No matter the cultural or geographic origin, etiquette has one thing in common worldwide: it is a set of polite actions that treat others and the surrounding with the outmost respect. This philosophy is universal and doesn’t only apply to Western etiquette only.

Circling back to your question, there certainly is a way how to show respect towards the other party without necessarily shaking their hands. And there certainly is a way for the other party to accept this as a polite form of greeting without crossing your boundaries.

When you face a situation where someone extends their hand to shake yours, place your palm on your heart while maintaining eye contact. As you place the palm on your heart, nod softly and smile. This gesture radiates appreciation to the other person, without them feeling confused or ignored.
It is also important that those who would normally shake hands are understanding of this gesture and your culture, and won’t proceed crossing your boundaries by demanding a handshake, or even worse, hugging you or kissing your cheek.

In both cases, mutual respect and empathetic observations are the key.

I hope this helps!

Yours sincerely,

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