handshakeEvery culture has its own form of nonverbal greeting. In Ethiopia, men touch shoulders. In Japan, people bow to each other. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some people knock their heads together. In the United States, however, a new form of greeting has arisen in recent years: the fist bump. According to Michaeleen Doucleff writing for NPR.org, “Knocking knuckles was the only greeting we could find that signaled both victory and equality; neither bumper has the upper hand, so to speak.” The fist bump is also a lot less likely to transfer bacteria than the traditional handshake. A study in the “American Journal of Infection Control” found that a person is less likely to pass on germs when he or she bumps fists rather than shakes hands. In the study, five pairs of people shook hands, slapped palms, and bumped fists. “A moderately strong handshake transferred more than five times as much Escherichia coli bacteria onto a recipient’s hand than a fist bump, biologist David Whitworth and his colleague at Aberystwyth University found,” Doucleff writes. Does this mean that the fist bump should replace the handshake in business settings? As Mary Lou Manning, president-elect of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, said in the NPR article, “Fist bumping just seems more of an informal kind of greeting—a way to greet friends, not patients,” she says. “I haven’t been a fist bumper, and I don’t intend to become one.” Manning’s attitude probably reflects that of most business people: People will most likely continue to shake hands, but may slip off to the bathroom to immediately wash their hands, post-handshake. See the article at NPR.org.]]>

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