Have you ever refused to shake someone's hand?

I was thinking about this last night after seeing a fight erupt at a hockey game b/c of a handshake refusal after the game was over. I don’t think I have ever refused to shake someone’s hand, not can I recall a situation where I even thought about it.

Have any of you ever refused a handshake, and if so, what were the circumstances?

Door to door salesmen, a few times. One was a high-energy black kid about 17-18, working the “I have to sell X amount of this stuff to get a free trip” scam. He stuck his hand all the way inside the house and I stepped back just because of the startling effrontery. It always bugged me a little that he assumed it was racial and instantly joked it off with, “It’s okay, it doesn’t rub off.”

No, it didn’t make me buy any miracle goop.

I walked out of a very contentious business meeting one time, in an I Really Don’t Give a Shit Any More mood, without shaking hands with the two visitors, but before anyone actually extended a hand.

About half my college graduating class refused to shake the University’s President’s hand while receiving their diploma. Some protest, I forget over what. I didn’t participate.

If my hand is covered with grease or similar, food leavings, or I’m sick and I just used it to sneeze into.

There have been situations where I didn’t particularly want to meet someone at an event - one was a politician I didn’t like. But it was quite easy to avoid going over in that direction and not being near enough to have to shake a hand. No drama - just avoided the situation.

I suppose if I were in an official greeting line, it would have been less easy to avoid. I can imagine being at a reception where everyone is standing in a line to shake hands and Dubya is in the line - I loathe him, but I wouldn’t cause a scene by not shaking his hand. Granted, if there were a photo of that moment, I can guarantee you there would be no smile on my face, but I would have been gracious enough to go through the motions of shaking hands.

I mentioned in a recent thread about Margaret Thatcher that my good friend (very liberal MP) introduced me to her when we were walking down a hallway and she was coming from the other direction. He had shaken her hand and when I was introduced, so did I. Neither of us were giving any implicit sign that we loved her political policies - we were being polite in a spontaneous situation of meeting her.

Political and military leaders don’t have a problem shaking hands with sworn enemies, why should I?

I was being fingerprinted for a new job and had ink all over my fingers when I was introduced to a new co-worker just a couple of weeks ago. No handshake there!

All the time. Debaters seem to think they should shake the judge’s hand after a round, when most of us don’t want their who knows where they’ve been hands anywhere near us. Eventually I’ll break them of the habit.

Yes. When I was married, my husband (at the time) was fooling around with a co-worker. I refused to shake her hand upon introduction at the office Christmas party. Apparently quite a few people were shocked at my refusal.

When I debate, I wash my hands afterwards. I’d hope they’d do so, too. But I don’t do it in front of a crowd, you guys are weird.

Am I reading this right? Your husband introduced you to the woman you (and apparently quite a few other people) knew he was fooling around with?

Ah, the “cut direct.” (Scroll to the final heading on the page.)

Door-to-door salesmen a few times for me. Otherwise, no.

Well, that depends whether they knew she knew. Perhaps the shock was over the realization that she did, when they thought she didn’t.

As for the topic… To get it over with, insert joke about (particular poster) here.

There. Now we can move on.

Petition and charity harassers in the downtown area offer handshakes to make people stop and listen to their spiel. Obviously there’s a good reason right there.

Yeah, I resigned from a job in Afghanistan after I felt my employer was turning a blind eye to some significant corruption involving US money. I actually got threatening text messages from one person I had fired and one of my Afghan colleagues helping look into the corruption was threatened by armed men. During my exit interview my (soon to be ex)boss tried to shake my hand. I refused and reported evertying I knew to the appropriate government agency.

Later one of the Afghans that I’m sure was involved in the corruption showed up at my new place of employment in Kabul. He was representing an organization that wanted to get grant money from us. He was pretty surprised to see me, but tried to shake my hand. I refused.

There was this guy, some 10 years ago or more, who was a project manager on some bank IT project and he had this very odd method of dealing with project members who were recent immigrants vs. Canadians. With the latter, he was warm and fuzzy full of English phrases to make you feel special and what-not but when it came to dealing with this woman that immigrated from Turkey he was a mean SOB (read into it what you please: he was from Pakistan).

I’d go for a coffee with her from time to time – we did not work in the same team but we knew each other – she was a pleasant, smart and intelligent woman with Masters Degree.

Over time she started complaining of the PM behaviour in terms of using profanities at the meetings and especially one-on-one meetings behind closed door. She grew pretty much intimated by him and I was also growing nervous knowing full well that his is unacceptable behaviour. One day she rushed to my cubicle crying and visibly upset. I knew right away what the problem was so I just walked over to PM’s desk and pretty much threatened him old-country style (well I was in Canada only a year or so, so I was still rough around the edges). I simply towered over him – I’m 6”3 and 220lbs – and told him to stop harassing her or else (“else” being physical violence).

It all stopped that day – my guess is that he figured he went over the line by making her cry and not so much because of my threat.

Anyways, some 6-7 years forward, I’m at another bank and he is some program manager one the bank side and I came as a SME from capital markets side of the same bank. It was a big all-together for a bank-wide IT implementation. My boss extended his hand to him across the big table and while I’m still sitting, the PM as soon as he finished shaking my boss’ hand he moves his still extended hand toward me and I just nod. My boss looks at me weirdly, the PM makes a sour half-smile and the awkward moment was broken by a BIG boss entering the room loudly and starting the meeting.

Later that day, I told my boss the story and he just said “I understand” and we never talked about it again.

Long time ago, at an industry convention. An ex-employee of ours, who had said a lot of really nasty stuff after leaving. He walked up to me with his hand out, and I said “I dont even want to legitimize you with my presence, never mind touch you” Apparently, he was offended.

There is one person whose hand I think I would refuse to shake, due to stuff they did to some people I care about.

That reminds me of the famous (in certain circles) rejection by Robert Heinlein of Alexei Panshin. In about 1974, Panshin showed up at a book signing or speech by Heinlein in NYC, and attempted to introduce himself. In the precise form by which Heinlein defined being a gentleman as having the right to also be a cast-iron SOB, Heinlein simply snapped, “Good day, sir,” and walked away.

I did last week- a guy (I think with Down’s Syndrome) working at a local charity shop started talking to me as I was trying to look at the books, then determinedly, and quite aggressively, tried to get me to shake his hand. I told him I didn’t like shaking hands, and didn’t.
I don’t think I’ve refused in a business situation.

Not in a “keep away from me!” way. The reason was “sorry, got a cold” or similar - local health authorities actually recommend not shaking hands, hugging or kiss-kissing when you’ve got an infectious disease (and yes, that includes colds and tummy flus).

I’ve declined a handshake from a few practicing pedophiles and more than one serial killer. Plus a few patients that just seemed skeevy.