- Avoid physical contact that spreads illness-inducing germs.
A few months ago, I had a bout of digestive illness. Thankfully, the severity lasted only a few days. Web info indicated that contagiousness could last a few weeks. It seemed prudent and considerate to greet people with bows rather than handshakes. OTOH, I haven’t quite resolved how to greet long-time friends with whom I’ve greeted more heartily since forever.
- Avoid awkwardness of the level of appropriate physical contact. Limp handshake? Strong handshake? Strong handshake accompanied by the other hand? Embrace? Kiss? Air kiss, which can resemble a gently blown kiss? Fist bump? Dap?
- At events where people are eating, exchange greeting bows instead of engaging in food smears or needing to wipe hands first, which tend to be less than cleanly effective.
Bows are the traditional greeting in East Asia, particularly in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, and Vietnam. In Taiwan, China, and Vietnam, shaking hands or a slight bow have become more popular than a full bow.While researching bows, I’ve run across various differences among different nationalities. For example, the “wai” bowing in Thailand involves exhaustive social settings and societal hierarchies.
Bows can be generally divided into three main types: informal, formal, and very formal. Informal bows are made at about a fifteen degree angle and more formal bows at about thirty degrees.
For demonstrations of contact and no-contact greetings, watch “20 Handshakes”. (Glimpses of bows are at 0:54, 1:00, and 1:07.) Watch “Professional Fist Bump” for an MD's advocacy of fist bump over handshake.
One charming gesture of thanks is Justin Yoon of Notre Dame bowing to two teammates when he successfully kicks a field goal. A video snippet of the ritual is in "FB vs Navy Highlights". The field goal segment starts at 1:08, with the ball clearing the posts at 1:10 (?). The bows and naration occur from 1:13 to 1:15. (Whew! I hunted high and low on the web to find any video that I could cite!)
Alas, Notre Dame's season ended November 29—no more field goal bows till next season. During my searches for images and videos of post-field goal bows, I did manage to scrape up some articles that had such bow pictures. An article that includes a good Justin bow is “Notebook: Kelly getting a kick out of Notre Dame freshman Justin Yoon”.
Another article with a good bow picture is “Yoon Finding Comfort Level”
Daly, Kizer and Yoon have a unique celebration when a field goal is made … The three players do a Sensei Bow.Hmm, the Flickr Sansei bow seems “deep”, with the hands much closer to the face than in the Notre Dame pictures. I Googled “korean bow greeting” for images, thinking Justin’s Korean heritage might exhibit some such characteristics. Well, I see images of lots of bowing, no greeter palm meets, some handshaking.
After poking around the web about bows, and discovering lots of different conventions, I’ve decided that simple is good. 1) Face the other person. 2) Bring palms together. 3) Bow slightly. Look friendly by making eye contact and smiling during the bow.