How to Avoid Shaking Hands for Insurance Agents

Written by Jessica Adkins

March 12, 2020

Insurance agents are always on the go—in our clients’ homes, at community events, in and out health fair events, on the road, and coming in contact with hundreds of people every day. It’s safe to say; it’s good manners and the very first thing you do when you meet with your client or see someone you know: you shake their hand.

With the current situation evolving regarding COVID-19 met, you may be reluctant to shake someone’s hand. And if you have up until this point, you’ve likely beelined for the hand-sanitizer. Over the next few weeks and months, when you meet new people or reunite with work colleagues or clients you haven’t seen for a while, the question is: how can you navigate this potentially awkward situation? Here are several tips to help you feel less awkward with avoiding contact.

It will feel totally awkward.

You may worry that you’re making a bad impression or sending an unfriendly message. And avoiding a handshake may result in an awkward dance where you try to figure out what you both feel comfortable with — a fist bump? Touching elbows? Feet? Just a wave or a bow? — and who should follow whose lead? At this point, most people are aware of the 6-foot rule and are taking multiple precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and are likely to be as equally awkward and confused about how to introduce themselves in professional and public settings.

Decide ahead of time what you feel comfortable with.

Before you go into a meeting with a client or you greet someone new, think through what you want to do. Take a few moments and make a plan based on how you’re comfortable greeting people without shaking hands. Having a plan will give you confidence and potentially make the interaction less awkward.
Since you are violating a norm, it can be helpful to make light of the situation. While humor should never come at the expense of anyone or any group, considering making a lighthearted comment to connect over the same uncomfortable feeling. It’s also an excellent way to acknowledge that we’re all behaving these days differently.

Avoid judging others.

Given the current circumstances, you probably don’t need to apologize for being unwilling to shake hands though you could if you feel inclined. One of the reasons that this is potentially awkward is that declining to shake someone’s hand could carry judgment. You may feel like people will look at you and think — “Are you really such a germaphobe?”

Instead of worrying about how others may interpret your avoidance of shaking hands or other close interactions, or even how your clients and coworkers may be reacting to you, recognize that we’re all on a continuum of risk and uncertainty. Some people feel more comfortable with a handshake and others prefer an elbow bump. There are also people who will want to avoid contact altogether. And there are likely reasons you don’t know — or need to know — that inform their choices, like an underlying health issue or a cultural background.

Just remember, there’s no right or wrong way to react in these awkward moments. However, we are all in this together, and at the end of the day, our primary purpose is to help beneficiaries live happier, healthier longer lives.

If you have any questions regarding how to handle clients or set up a readiness plan for your office – please contact us at 800-962-4693.

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