To Reset To a Compassion Culture A New Global Formal Greeting Is Necessary

In organisational and formal social culture, nothing speaks more to an imperialist white-supremecist patriarchal system based on domination than the handshake.

There is so much social expectation and perception associated with the handshake. Virtuallly every person living in a western nation has had the feeling of having their hand twisted into a more passive position (with their palm facing more upwards) by someone intentionally or subconsciously asserting dominance.

I have heard body language professionals give advice on how to respond in such a situation.

When greeting by handshake a hand extended in the upright position indicates equality – a willingness to meet as two equals. So when the hand is extended with it twisted over beyond the upright position – indicating inequality – rather than responding by being passive and submitting by turning your hand with your palm facing upward, you can place your hand atop theirs and shake.

Much is made of handshakes because of the importance of first impressions.

Those particularly polished in etiquette and diplomacy train themselves around this, intentionally altering their handshake for the circumstance. If they wish to appear warm and non-threatening they will extend their hand with their palm more open and facing upwards so that they can embrace the other person’s hand, often then cupping it with their other hand or touching them further up the forearm to accentuate that warmth. If they wish to appear firm but fair, the hand is extended upright at 12 o’clock. And if they wish to assert themselves they extend it in the dominant form, twisted over beyond 12 o’clock to a varying degree depending on the level of strength or dominance that they wish to express.

The force exerted in grasping the hand is also important with obvious correlations.

It is as common for people to criticise others’ handshakes for being too weak or limp as it is to criticise them for being too firm. In my experience women often speak of males’ handshakes being weak suggesting a level of learned or hard-wired expectation of masculinity.

Personally, I was taught how to shake hands when I was 5 by my father when he refused to continue kissing me when I went to bed at night, telling me that men shake hands.

I am certain this behaviour, stemming largely from homophobia, is repeated in many cultures. I remember my brief but great mentor JR Bonami (also a very important mentor to my friend Dr Shi Zhengli, the brilliant “Batwoman” scientist from the Wuhan Institute of Virology) explaining to me local social etiquette during my time in Montpellier, France telling me that in the south of France men don’t kiss like the (apparently less macho) northern French men.

In the new Great Reset era, where we are developing a compassion culture to replace the culture of domination, where for instance heteronormative men are expressing themselves by wearing clothing formerly associated only with women, it is appropriate that we develop a new custom of greeting in formal situations in parallel with the fluid informal expressions of affection that accompany friends greeting.

However, because what is being discussed is a formal greeting, and people often feel uncomfortable over-expressing warmth such as by hugging or kissing, and often females especially feel pressured to comply when someone leans in to kiss or hug, it must take a form that is truly inclusive.

Developing a new mores (I admit I needed to search for the right word) for formal greeting is important because it gives us agency to express immediately in a formal setting that we are woke and will not accede to imperialist white-supremacist culture of domination.

The greeting should be strength expressed as warmth and compassion.

Do you think we can learn from other non-imperialist matriarchal or more passive cultures and adopt that custom, and if so, please share your suggestions.

Otherwise should we develop a totally new style of greeting?

Head to LinkedIn to let me know your thoughts in the original post, and please share… thank you

Published on LinkedIn 25 August 2022

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© Copyright Brett Edgerton 2022

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