Jul 8, 2022 - Economy

Handshakes are back

Illustration of a pedestrian crosswalk sign showing a dull icon of a hand indicating "stop" and a lit up and glowing icon of a handshake.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Despite what many people thought at the onset of the pandemic, the "ancient greeting" of handshakes was always going to come back. And it has.

Driving the news: Business travel has rebounded, so have in-person conferences. And corporate retreats have become more popular amid the rise of virtual teams.

  • At no point during meetings or events that I’ve attended in L.A., Austin, D.C. or Cannes, France over the past two months did I hesitate to reach out and shake hands — nor did I sense hesitation from anyone else.

Why handshakes matter: More than just the return of a familiar custom, you get a sense for the person controlling that hand.

Case in point: My right hand was still throbbing hours after being painfully squeezed by someone I met for the first time at an event yesterday.

  • The message I received in the two to three seconds (along with a strong, locked gaze) seemed to be: I’m in control and you probably don’t want to mess with me.
  • Some context: As someone who has surprised other people with her own firm shake, the crushing I received yesterday was particularly noteworthy.

The big picture: The pandemic hasn’t technically ended, but people are clearly eager to get back to normal routines.

The bottom line: We can't replicate what we learn from human touch.

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