At the first I should add that different cultures have different attitudes and believes, so with that in mind I would like to ask my question that may seem weird to almost all European, American, Australian countries. :)

As women colleagues shake hands with men in company, how should I prevent shaking hands (maybe by saying a proper sentence too) with women colleagues?

I certainly know that first day impression is so much important, so I don't want to miss that opportunity!

Do you have any idea about this? Do you have similar colleagues at work that not shake hands with women? How do they behave? What is the best way to say hello with all respect?

  • 2
    How can anyone answer this without knowing what country you're in, and which cultures are in play?
    – PeteCon
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:33
  • @PeteCon because it is not related to a specific country. Many countries like middle eastern countries follow the same culture.
    – Alireza
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:36
  • 1
    @ALH The cultures are important, however - especially where there's a clash.
    – PeteCon
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:41
  • 1
    There's a reason the countries you listed have a culture that frowns on treating women differently than men: These countries view them as equals (or are trying to) and by defining your interaction with someone based on their gender you are calling that person "less than" regardless of why. So what reason do you have for not shaking someone's hand? What is the cultural bias you are using? Right now your question reads like "how do I get away with discrimination?"
    – DWShore
    Oct 9, 2019 at 15:39
  • 1
    "When in Rome, do as the Romans."
    – joeqwerty
    Oct 9, 2019 at 21:01

3 Answers 3


If you are based in any of the countries you mentioned in your question the only way you can avoid shaking hands with women is to avoid shaking hands with everyone regardless of gender.

Treating people differently based on gender is discrimination and whilst small hand shaking could be perceived this way. I’m not sure how your culture handles trans or any of the other non binary definitions but that could also be a factor to consider.

In short, I’d consider either shaking everyone’s hand or no ones hand.

  • 12
    Absolutely. I wouldn't accept 'culture' as an excuse from any member of staff to treat a colleague differently depending on their gender.
    – PeteCon
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:43

At work, in many cultures including the regions you mentioned in your question, you should treat men and women the same. Specifically, if you don't shake hands with women, do not shake hands with men, but it extends to all interactions.

Pick some non-contact greeting gesture. One person I know who does not shake hands puts her palms together, fingers up, and gives something between a nod and a slight bow. Practice the gesture, and start using it outside work, before your first day on the job, so you are used to it. Use the gesture you choose for everyone.

  • Isn't that gesture typical only for some Asian people / cultures only? Usually accompanied with "Namaste" or something similar? I feel very awkward when I am served any foreign gesture seriously (as opposed to jokingly), while the person is not from that culture. It feels to me like we are both frauds, I have no idea how to respond in those cases.
    – virolino
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:49
  • 1
    @virolino The woman I know who uses that gesture is not Asian, and makes it seem natural. However, I only presented that as one example. The OP should pick their own gesture. Oct 9, 2019 at 13:53
  • Exactly my point, people who are from cultures which do not use the "Namaste" greeting serve the "Namaste" greeting to people who are not used to receiving it. What is wrong with hand-shaking? If touch is to be avoided, what is wrong with hand waving (usual for saying good-bye)? What is wrong with just a slight bend, without handhakes, Namaste or anything else?
    – virolino
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:59
  • @virolino Hand waving and a slight bend would both be reasonable choices for the OP. Oct 9, 2019 at 14:02

What is the best way to say hello with all respect?

Bow, it's a respectful greeting, better than nothing.

Refusing to shake hands with women would be found distasteful to any in the Western World, so don't expect it to go unnoticed, however bowing is acceptable. When I say bow I mean whatever goes in the locale. Tipping your hat in some places, anything from a nod to a bow in others.

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