Greetings: Hug, handshake, or man-shake?

As a working professional and frequent networker I often meet new people. And there have been many situations where I have been greeted with forms of physical touch that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for. So I have decided to share the most common greetings that I use and under what circumstances I choose to use them.


Handshake – a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals, as to symbolize greeting, congratulations, agreement, or farewell. (Definition via

Handshakes are a formal greeting that I will use when meeting someone for the first time in any situation. I will always use it in formal settings with individuals that I know only through a professional connection. Familiarity with an individual beyond a professional relationship might call for a different type of greeting.

Shout out to the “brother-shake” that has transcended time. I will not reveal the contents of this shake or its purpose.

Actions that excuse me from shaking your hand:
-Nose blowing

Locations that excuse me from shaking your hand:
-Dinner table mid-meal

Hug – to clasp tightly in the arms, especially with affection; embrace. (Definition via

Hugs are a greeting that I will only use with individuals that I know very well personally. In cases where I have not seen someone in a long time the hug may last longer. This typically only occurs with family members.

The extra long, tight, back-rubbing embrace should be used with caution. This type of greeting can lead to an altercation in situations where your partner is not familiar with the previous relationship that you had with the hugger.

Man-shake (or man-hug, or hand-mug) – a mixture of a handshake and a hug, a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals accentuated by an embrace utilizing the left arm. (MarcQus J. Wright, 2011)

The origin of the man-shake is unknown but its use is widespread. I will use this greeting in personal and professional settings with men that I know. The handshake serves as a buffer. I know many men that use this form of greeting because they are uncomfortable delivering a full hug.

An honorable mention to “the nod”, serving as a term of acknowledgement for individuals that may not know each other well enough for a physical greeting , but have a shared identity.

What are your thoughts?

When do you hug, handshake, or man-shake?

Do you prefer the Howie Mandel fist-bump?

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