At work I have a close circle of about ten people that I interact with frequently. Then there are some eight people I do greet on the aisle, but we do not work closely together. And then there is a huge group of people I pass when traversing the premises (kind of factory workers) that I greet but generally do not know names or anything of.

Today, in my close circle we had a small office Christmas party, where naturally we shook hands and wished each other Happy Holidays. Also, everyone that came by my office today I shook hands with along with the greetings.

On my way out I passed some of the more familiar co-workers, standing a few meters away from my route between smaller clusters of other workers I barely know. The familiar co-workers are maintenance people, the other, less known people are the ones working with the machines. There are some five groups like this on my route out, so I instinctively just shouted a collective 'Happy Holidays' to them, without shaking a hand.

Then I passed the office with the other eight closer colleagues. Again, I just peeked into the office and collectively wished everyone nice holidays. No hand-shaking there again obviously.

I do not have any issues with physical contact, I am just not a fan of this handshaking-through-the-whole-office-routine. Also, if I meet someone in a more isolated or personal way, of course I shake hands.

The way I see it is either shaking hands with a bunch of people like a robot, or just give everyone a quick smile when looking through the room. To me, the latter feels more natural, in that situation.

On the other hand I would like to be self-conscious of my actions and therefore started to ask myself if some people might consider my behavior rude.

So the question arises: Is it considered rude to not shake hands when greeting a larger and/or less known group of people?


  • I am not declining handshakes offered to me, I just do not go up to a group of people and shake everyone's hands. Instead I greet them collectively.
  • 2
    The question has the tag "Austria", I believe that is important. When I travelled there I had the impression that locals shake hands more often than in many other countries. Handshaking habits vary among countries.
    – winerd
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 19:38

3 Answers 3


Is it considered rude to not shake hands when greeting a larger and/or less known group of people?

There is no hard and fast rule in terms of shaking hands when inserting yourself into a group for conversation purposes.

A collective greeting is perfectly acceptable. If you walk up to a group of folks, there is nothing wrong with just saying "Happy holidays everyone!" or just "Hello everyone".

After the collective greeting, if someone reached out to shake my hand, I would reciprocate to the person who initiated the hand shake. It would not be a surprise upon one person shaking your hand, that the rest of the group would do so too, but I would let them initiate that action.


I would not consider it rude, indeed though you may not have an issue with physical contact and germ transmission, others may.

Something I do when I'm unsure whether to go for handshakes or not (I'm fairly introvert and not good at social cues) is raise my right hand in greeting as I greet the group, this seems to act as a signal that that hand is 'available if anyone actively wants to shake but not in an awkward way' and sometimes people stick out their own mitts before I've lowered it and a round of hand-shaking ensues.

  • Coincidently I did this before, raising the hand for one back-and-forth wave. I agree with you that something like this signals openness for a handshake, but I think at the same time it says something along the lines of 'obvious greeting gesture, no need to get into awkward situations about handshakes'.
    – pat3d3r
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 16:16

I think it's not rude at all, may be you're doing a favor to some people who don't like shaking hands and as said in the comments, a "happy holidays everyone" is more than enough in work place.

Plus, sometimes people come from different cultures, and don't always celebrate christmas, so saying "Happy holidays everyone" without shaking hands is the best to do in workplace unless your one of your coworkers came to you and shakes hands :)


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