Of all the pointless and antiquated traditions humans infuriatingly
continue to adhere to, shaking hands is probably the one I resent me
the most. I'm not quite sure why I hate the idea of handshakes so much,
and since it'd take more than a few sessions with a psychiatrist to
figure it out, I'll probably never know for sure. But if I had to
guess, it'd say it's probably a combination of two things:
- Handshakes serve no practical purpose and I see them as phony and
- I'm a contrarian sociopath who derives pleasure from flouting
social codes I disapprove of.
In all honestly, it's probably 99% due to the latter, but
in the end, I guess it doesn't really matter why I hate handshakes. I just do.
What's really important is that I've come up with this list of ways to
get out of shaking hands. Granted, this guide won't be of much use to
actual well-rounded adults, but certain groups people (Germaphobes,
Insufferable Iconoclasts, Angry Goth Teens, etc) will likely find it
So with that in mind, here are 9 sneaky and underhanded ways to get out
of shaking someone's hand.
1. CLAIM TO BE "GETTING OVER A COLD"
This is probably the most common way most get out of having to shake
someone's hand. I work in an office and I hear it all the time. Sure,
maybe all of these people really do have colds, but I have to suspect
that a lot of them just don't feel like shaking hands. That's the kind
of deception I can really respect.
Unfortunately, this method is far from foolproof, as some people won't
care about your (alleged) illness and will try to shake your hand anyway. One
way around this might be to claim you have a significantly more
horrifying disease like Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) or
Tungiasis (gaping lesions caused by parasitic fleas). The preparation
required for faking these diseases (makeup, prosthetics, etc) is
extremely time consuming though, so be aware of this.
Come to think of it though, you could probably just try sneezing
messily into both of your hands whenever you meet someone new. It might
not be as flashy as falsely claiming to be afflicted with a disease,
but I bet it'd get the job done.
2. MASTURBATE CONSTANTLY
Nobody in their right mind would offer to shake hands with a person who
is currently engaged in the act of masturbation, so you'd be a fool not
to use this to your advantage. Whenever you're somewhere handshakes are
common (be it your office, a wedding, or a small child's birthday
party), whip it out and just start pumping away. I can't speak to
whatever else might happen to you, but the one thing I will guarantee
is that nobody's gonna be reaching towards you with their hand extended
in a friendly manner. Well, probably not, anyway.
It should be fairly obvious that this tip was mostly intended for men.
As for you women out there, you're welcome to try this as well. Just be
warned that your behavior might not garner the same reaction
as a masturbating male's would. Still, I suppose it couldn't hurt to try.
3. MAKE IT APPEAR AS THOUGH YOU HAVE A DEGENERATIVE DISORDER OF THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM
Obviously these sorts of disorders are no laughing matter, but I would be
remiss if I didn't point out how useful spastic limb tremors can be when you wish to avoid shaking hands with someone. Now,
I'm not suggesting you should go out and try to get Parkinson's or something (this would be both offensive and ridiculous), but there ARE a number of
ways to bring about limb tremors in otherwise healthy individuals. The
example below discusses a few of the more effective methods.
Let's say you have a job interview coming up. In this situation you'll
pretty much be forced to shake your interviewers hand (lest you offend
them and lose-out on the job), so this is the perfect opportunity to
attempt a Degenerative Disorder of The Central Nervous System Fake-out. Following the instructions below will
almost guarantee that your hands (and perhaps even your entire body)
will be shaking so much during the interview that you'll hardly be able
to stand, speak, or control your bowels...let alone shake hands.
- Do not sleep or eat for 6-8 days beforehand. This is sure to
start your hands shaking.
- Cultivate an addiction to amphetamines. Then, abruptly stop
taking them the day before the interview. These drugs can be a lot of
fun, but what you stop taking them they've been cause tremors (amongst
other nasty things).
- Arrive early and drink seventeen cups of coffee while you wait
to be seen. You entire body should be twitching quite a bit at this
point, and you should be unable to close/open your eyes. Do not worry.
This is normal.
- Deliberately sustain a massive head injury. I don't know
much about the brain, but if you're able to severely damage the primary
motor cortex it might affect your ability to control your movement,
causing you to jerk around uncontrollably. Then again, what do I know?
I'm no doctor.
- Fake it. If you follow the suggestions above, there's
really very little chance that your attempts at avoiding a handshake will fail, but if you want to be completely sure, you
might consider pretending to lose your balance while clutching at
nearby objects, screaming while keeping your mouth closed, or
stuttering so heavily you cannot even finish a sentence. Obviously these aren't actually symptoms of a disease, but I doubt anyone is going to call you out on that at this point.
4. SPIT IN YOUR HAND BEFORE SHAKING
Admittedly, spitting in one's hand is kind of a crazy and extreme thing
to do, so you might have to hillbilly yourself up a little to make it
believable. If you're unsure how one would go about hillbillying
oneself up, don't worry, it's reasonably painless. Rent a large
American pickup truck (yes, I know you don't have any use for a pickup
truck, but that's their way), slap a bunch of snowmobile or local
corporate rock radio station decals on the rear window, grow or install
a mustache, and walk around with a reed in your mouth for no apparently
It also couldn't hurt to constantly harp on your affection for alcohol,
make crude comments to other nearby males when an attractive woman
walks by, and occasionally say dimwittedly folksy things like "Same
shit different day!" Now, everyone you meet is gonna assume that you're
a deeply misogynistic cornshucking cracker with a double digit IQ,
which means that when you hock an enormous loogie into your hand,
extend it and mutter "Thishere's how we do thangs down in dixie", they
probably won't be too offended.
This (the low risk of offending the second party) is the key reason the
"Spit In Your Hand" method is valuable. You get out of shaking hands by
grossing-out (rather than offending) the person who was forcing their
handshake on you. To many of you, this may seem like a meaningless
distinction, but to me, it is better to be thought a lout than a
gentleman. A lout is ignored and occasionally scorned, but a gentleman
is always expected to be polite, do the right thing, and go out of his
way to help others in need.
So I think what I'm saying here is that you might as well put on a
ridiculous disguise and spit in your hand like a mental patient just so
you can get out of a minor social custom. Sounds reasonable enough
5. FEIGN BLINDNESS
Although I can't be sure, I'm almost positive that blind people get out
of having to shake hands far more often than the sighted among us. This
makes sense if you think about it. If a blind person doesn't offer
their hand for a shake, what's the other person going to do, step up,
grab your hand, and start shaking? Probably not.
Even if they come right out and say like "Please hold out your hand so I can shake it", you can simply refuse. Since you're blind (at
least as far as they're concerned) they will be forced to "suck it up"
and accept your refusal with good humor. What are they gonna do? Start screaming at a blind person? Of course not.
Trust me, it can't fail.
6. HEIL LIKE YOU MEAN IT: SNAP OFF A QUICK "HEIL HITLER"
Try to make the heil seem nonchalant, but sincere. You don't have to be white for this to work either. Your race simply determines how extreme the reaction to your greeting will be. For example: A black man executing a "Heil Hitler" salute prior to a
job interview can probably only expect to mildly shock or bewilder the
interviewer (before being asked to leave), whereas a white man
performing the same action should expect to be forcibly ejected from
the building (at best) or spark a major race riot which causes the
streets to run red with the blood of Anglo-Saxons (at worst?).
But I wouldn't get yourself all bent up about trivialities like these.
Race riot or no race riot, results are what matter, not methodology.
You set out to accomplish a goal (in this case, not having to shake
somebody's hand) and you succeeded.
So hey: well done.
7. BE ASIAN IN AMERICA
Asian-Americans repulsed by the thought of touching another human may
not realize it, but they have a secret weapon at their disposal which
is not available to the other races. I'm speaking, of course, of the
And before you say anything: Yes, I realize that most Asians don't bow,
but that isn't the point. The point is that most Americans are so
clueless they won't even be able to tell what ethnicity you are
(Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, etc.), let alone if your culture
tends to bow or not. So go for the bow. There's a 99%
chance they'll return it so as not to offend you or embarrass
themselves, and BOOM: You just got out of a handshake.
Unfortunately, the downside to the bow is that many Americans are so
egocentric that they will also go in for a handshake after the bow (as
they do not consider bowing to be a "proper" greeting) so all of your
politically incorrect posturing will have been for naught. I still say
it's worth a shot though.
8. WRAP YOUR HAND IN A FAKE BANDAGE
Are you an obsessive-compulsive who wants desperately to avoid
handshakes, but also wishes to seem like a mysterious badass while
doing it? If so, a cast or bandage on the hand is probably the perfect
solution for you. When someone sees your hand wrapped in a bandage,
they're probably going to assume you got it in some badass way, like
punching a guy for talking to your girlfriend, attempting to free an escaped slave from a bear trap, or reaching into a running garbage
disposal to retrieve tickets to a demolition derby.
Although, one problem I can foresee with this method is that someone
would simply offer to shake your left hand as a substitute for the
supposedly injured one. The obvious fix for this is to spend even more
time wrapping both your hands in large fake bandages every time you
leave the house.
It's common sense, really.
9. FLAT-OUT REFUSE
While this is "technically" an option, I wouldn't recommend it. See,
you might assume that refusing to participate in a pointless social
convention like a handshake wouldn't be a big deal. I can tell you from
experience that this is most certainly not the case.
Over the past 10 years or so, I've been conducting some random
experiments on refusing handshakes. I won't go into detail here, but
let me just tell you that refusing handshakes without reason (even in
the "politest" most nonconfrontational manner possible) is NOT a good
idea. Here are a few of the most common reactions you, as a handshake
refuser, might have to deal with:
- Handshaker gets annoyed, asks you to explain why you refuse to
shake hands, and a long, pointless debate ensues. You come off as a
childish and insensitive elitist (which, to be fair, is probably
- Handshaker flies into a blind rage at your refusal to shake hands
with them and pummels you into unconsciousness with their large, meaty
- Handshaker scoffs at you, grabs your hand and shakes it anyway
while grinning smugly.
- Handshaker's face reveals nothing. You hear from a co-worker the
next day that the handshaker went home, drew themselves a hot bath, set a running television set on a nearby counter, climbed in, finished bathing, got out, dried off, went in the other room, and then committed suicide by blowing their brains out. You shake your head sadly, and then you ask your coworker why she included the stuff about him taking a bath in the story. Also how did she even know about it? After you ask this, the coworker begins to laugh maniaically and vanishes into thin air. Guess she was a ghost or something.
I assume you now understand why I do not recommend the Flat-Out Refusal
method. Ignore my warnings at your peril.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY
Contrary to what the header I just typed up there would have you
believe, there is no actual message in this piece. I just think shaking
hands is idiotic and I choose not to do it whenever possible, but hey,
you can do whatever you want. Honestly I don't even think it's that big
of a deal. The one thing I do take issue with, though, are people who
say not wanting to shake hands is "selfish". I don't think it is, and
Which of these seems more selfish to you?
- Kindly explaining to someone that you'd rather not shake hands
with them (for whatever reason).
- Expecting people to shake your hand because that's what you're
used to, and getting annoyed, offended, or pissed-off if they don't.
The answer seems pretty obvious from where I'm sitting: They're both
equally selfish. You expect someone to shake hands with you even if
they don't want to? That's selfish, and you're an asshole. You refuse
to shake hands because "you don't really feel like it"? That's selfish
too, and you're a slightly different kind of asshole.
So why can't we, as human beings, put an end to this handshake
childishness once and for all? Why can't we make this world of ours
into a greeters paradise, where every person has the right to initiate
or refuse any form of greeting they so choose without fear of reprisal?
Oh. Yeah. That's right.
Because we're all selfish assholes.