7 No-Contact Handshake Alternatives

The origins of the handshake go back thousands of years. In fact, drawings of this friendly gesture are on headstones from the 4th and 5th century B.C. But as we limit our physical contact due to COVID-19, handshaking may become obsolete.

If you need a hand with finding a new greeting, take a cue from various cultures around the world. Not only will these no-contact gestures keep you safe, but they could also help you connect with diverse friends, family and coworkers.


This touchless action consists of rapidly raising and lowering your eyebrows and smiling at the person you are greeting. The eyebrow flash is a way to greet good friends and relatives. You can use it to recognize the presence of another person while maintaining several feet apart.


A respectful Islamic acknowledgement is to place your hand over your heart when greeting someone new or who isn't accustomed to your touch.

 American Sign Language

To say hello in American Sign Language, bring one hand to your forehead as though you are about to salute, then flick your wrist away from your head like a small wave. To greet a large group in sign language, simply wave.


Although widely used by the surfing community, the Shaka sign didn't originate with surfers. Instead, it originated with a Hawaiian security guard who lost his 3 middle fingers in a sugar mill accident. He later used the gesture to communicate to his coworkers, and it has since become an expression of gratitude and friendship.

These handshake alternatives are just one way you can stay safe during coronavirus.

Zimbabwe, Africa

In Zimbabwe, Africa, when 2 people meet, they shake hands then clap twice. A pandemic-friendly alternative is to skip the handshake and go right to the double clap. The clapping gesture means, "Greetings, how are you?" If the recipient is fine, they will follow-up with one clap.


A traditional Hindu greeting, namaste consists of placing your hands together with your fingertips pointing upward in front of your chest and slightly bowing your head. This one word has the potential to bring peace between people, peace between nations and peace within ourselves.


East Asian 

In several East Asian countries, including Thailand, the wai bow is a way to greet someone you respect. To perform this greeting, press your palms together and lower your head while you raise your hands until your thumbs touch your nose.