It’s Nice To Meet You, But Please Don’t Shake My Hand

In our society, etiquette suggests that a strong, firm handshake is the way to go, the most appropriate way to shake another person’s hand.

But what happens when you have arthritis?

Lately I cringe whenever someone wants to shake my hand because it hurts.  It feels like someone is manhandling my joints, even though it lasts all of ten seconds.

But I don’t want to appear rude, so I deal with it.

I know there are some people with arthritis who put it out there that they won’t shake your hand under any circumstance.

I am not that ballsy.

It seems like an awkward conversation to have.

It’s nice to meet you, but please don’t shake my hand.

I have arthritis, so I can’t shake your hand because it hurts.  But I’m not being rude.

So many caveats.

And it seems to me that someone might feel snubbed if they put their hand out to shake yours and you don’t put your hand out to shake theirs.

I suppose you could gain some street cred by fist bumping everyone you meet as opposed to shaking their hand, but that might just be a little too gangster for everyday life.

So as I begin interviewing for internships, I find myself in a bit of a bind.

Usually interviews begin and end with a handshake, and while maybe it shouldn’t, a lot of people view your handshake as a proxy for your candidacy as an employee.

I don’t fully understand the significance of a handshake, but it goes far back enough that it seems odd to try and question the practice.

But for those of us with arthritis, it is something that we have to question if it causes us pain and discomfort.

It may also be anxiety provoking if you know you are going to be in a situation that necessitates handshaking, and you don’t want to appear rude or standoffish, but you don’t want to shake hands.

So what do you do?

Any other solutions out there besides fist bumping to gain street cred?

What do you do or say?  How do you get out of the situation without destroying the relationships or interaction?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.
poll graphic

Community Poll

Do you find the pain scale is an effective tool?