10 Ways to greet and communicate in person while social distancing


By Adelina Tan

10 Ways to greet and communicate in person while social distancing

The ways we interact with others have fundamentally changed because of COVID-19. One of the casualties include physical greetings due to the potential of disseminating the virus. If hugs, handshakes, and kisses were your usual approaches, it’s time to think of different ways to say “hello”.

The New Normal (which to be honest, is now the Everyday Normal) can be seen in the beauty industry and the fashion industry. Virtual events are also trending over in-real-life or physical events. Furthermore, the usage of e-wallets and cashless transactions is now commonplace. You also can’t forget about all the video conferencing options around that has helped us stay connected—from Zoom to FaceTime.

While we continue to practise social distancing amid coronavirus concerns, we will have to constantly look for alternatives in our new reality. It can be challenging but people all over the world are creative. Hence, we don’t actually have to forgo basic good manners while meeting others in person. What can you do to communicate and greet without physically touching each other? Gone are the elbow bumps, fist bumps, and high fives.

1) The Wave-and-Smile

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This will probably be one of the most common forms of greeting from now on. It’s also really simple and straightforward. Universally understood,  the wave-and-smile is effective whether you’re one metre away or five metres apart. It works when you smile with your mask on too.

2) The Bow

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In many cultures, bowing is a natural everyday tradition—including South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and China. This particular way of communicating isn’t just applied for saying “hello”. You can bow to bid farewell, apologise, congratulate, and indicate gratitude. Although customs and rules surrounding bowing can differ wherever you are, it’s a greeting that anyone would understand right away. If you’re curious, you can always ask about specific cultural guidelines before bowing.

3) The Nah-Ma-Stay

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Yes, you guessed that right—it’s Namaste. This is a form of greeting you have seen numerous times. Do you know what the Sanskrit word actually means? When translated directly to English, Namaste means “I bow to you”. It “is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another”.

You can use Namaste for a plethora of reasons—from meeting someone to thanking them. All you have to do is put your palms together and bow. It’s a deep form of respect (especially in India and Nepal) so make sure to use Namaste at the appropriate situations.

4) The Salute

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This is one of the most popular forms of greeting in the world. Salutes are symbols of respect, especially in the military. When you salute, most people understand what you mean. Friends do this when they see each other at the mamak. You’re not only acknowledging the existence of the other party; you’re also telling them that you value their presence. It’s simple, quick, and can be done from any distance.

5) The Vulcan Salute

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Here’s one from Star Trek! Spock’s infamous hand gesture could very well be the next best greeting practice after a handshake. All you have to do is raise your palm and part the ring fingers and the middle. It could be difficult at first but practice makes perfect. The Vulcan Salute is definitely a fun way to greet someone—and could even put a smile on their faces.

According to Professor Robert West from University College London, the gesture means “live long and prosper”. That’s as befitting as it gets.

6) The Hand-on-Heart

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You can say a simple “hello” or salam by putting your hand on your heart as a mode of acknowledgment. Uncomplicated and clean, it can be executed from any range.

You can use it at work, social functions, schools, and more. The hand-on-heart gesture is perfect as a substitute for handshakes.

7) Digital contact cards instead of physical versions

Pre-coronavirus, society has been accustomed to passing out business cards in person. More often than not, there will be physical touching in one form or another. One of the best methods to fix this problem is by sending out digital contact cards instead.

A solution you can consider is Betacard, a new innovation in contact and calling cards. With Betacard, it’s actually easier to exchange contact information seamlessly and precisely. It’s all in your smartphone, after all.

In addition to being cost-effective and green, digital contact cards are also easily catalogued and searchable. This is great especially because we don’t always have our cards with us. Digital cards can be updated and customised—with thousands of themes to choose from or opt to create from a blank canvas.

By not giving out physical cards, you’re adapting to the New Normal effectively and wisely. It’s probably the safest way to exchange business cards from now on. You can download Betacard on iOS and Android.

8) The Wakanda Salute

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You might have already been doing this pre-coronavirus, especially after watching Black Panther. Although not ideal for formal and official situations, the Wakanda Salute is a great way to greet and communicate with your peers.

To do it right, cross your arms to form the letter “X”. Make sure you have your right arm over the left. Wakanda Forever and keep your distance with this iconic salute.

9) V For Victory (and Peace)

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Hand signs are safe forms of greeting and the “V” symbol is no different. It has already been widely utilised. Also known as the peace sign, the “V for Victory” gesture is as effortless as it gets. It’s also a classic pose in selfies. Put two fingers up and keep the virus at bay.

10) The Finger Heart

Popularised by South Korean celebrities, all you have to do is form a baby heart with the tips of your thumb and forefinger. It’s the best way to spread love instead of the virus. Blackpink’s a fine example of this; welcoming fans into their area with finger hearts.

The New Normal means accepting that what we were used to in the past has changed. While we can still find ways to feel a sense of normalcy, we also have to come to terms with possible challenges and issues that may arise in the future.

Although unusual, you are allowed to refuse a handshake or a hug. Yes, pulling away from an embrace may seem like a breach of etiquette but physical contact has to be minimised as much as possible. These are just simple steps and are not extreme changes. Think of these new forms of communication and greeting as symbols of genuine concern for the health of one another. Stay safe, everyone!

For more stories on the New Normal, click here.

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