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New Business Etiquette Code in a Covid-19 World

Coronavirus has changed our ways of greeting and meeting. A handshake, a kiss on

the cheek, a hug, the clink of glasses at a dinner toast or blowing out candles over a

birthday cake are simple gestures that are on hold indefinitely. With the "new

normality" and people going back to work they wonder how the new business

etiquette code will look like in the office, at meetings and at corporate conferences.

How can you greet someone without looking rude?

Good manners should not disappear. Today we look at new and safer ways of showing

respect and affection for others. Etiquette is always evolving, it´s flexible to the

circumstances, however, respect for oneself and for others should never change. As

long as showing respect means keeping our distance and avoiding big gatherings,

safety is always going to be more important than etiquette.


Without no doubt, swapping out handshakes for head nods it´s going to be the big

change when greeting in the Covid era (a greeting which it´s already a tradition in

Japan). A sincere smile with a head nod is a warm and respectful way of greeting. Eye

contact is now essential when it comes to greeting.

The best business greeting in times of a pandemic is namasté, that is, a slight bow and

hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to

the chest. Namasté is the traditional greeting in India and conveys the same welcome

message as a handshake. Therefore, we can be polite and respectful without having

physical contact.


Coronavirus has also changed the way we communicate. Today we rely more than ever

on technology, both at work and in personal life. Making video calls on platforms such

as Skype, Facetime or Zoom is part of our day-to-day life. With no face-to-face

interaction, we need to improve our listening, attention and response skills, without

leaving aside our image and personal grooming. Respecting times, being patient,

taking notes, speaking slowly and clearly are business etiquette gestures. Nobody likes

to waste time talking and not be heard. Listening attentively and respectfully is a

hallmark of the business culture. The image is also important when making a working

video call we must dress professionally, even if we are at home, and always

maintaining our impeccable personal grooming.


Social etiquette rules dictate that once attendance at an event is confirmed, we must

attend. However, coronavirus has also relaxed the rules for rejecting invitations. Many

events, weddings, meetings and other social gatherings have been cancelled, and more

cancellations are expected to come in the coming months. In the case of events like

weddings, be sure to send a gift anyway and write a personal note expressing how

much you regret having to decline. When it comes to saying no to casual invitations,

you can reply as follows "thank you for the invitation, but I'm not just ready yet". We

must never stop replying to an invitation.


Definitely they´ve been the principal actors during the lockdown. The use of the mask in

public may become a social and style norm, as people start looking to wear masks that

match with their clothing and accessories. This is not the first time public health has

determined fashion norms. In 1920s women wore gloves as a way of avoiding germs at

time where serious diseases like typhoid fever were of concern.

Interacting with others with half of our face covered means losing some of the non-

verbal ways we rely on to express ourselves, like smiling. That´s where gestures such

as a thumbs up or a mock salute, come in.

Let us project in the future, a future after this pandemic, a future full of trips, kisses

and hugs. Project yourself in the future and let yourself dream.

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