The United Nations has a Manual of Protocol which serves to provide “…basic guidelines and fundamental norms and practices of protocol and administrative requirements accepted at United Nations Headquarters.” Recent events have apparently necessitated the preparation of a supplementary manual entitled Basic Manners in Diplomatic Encounters as evidenced by the following leaked draft:
UNITED NATIONS – Draft Document No. 89-17 – Classification: Secret
In response to requests from the heads of state of various member nations, the United Nations Secretariat has prepared a basic manual of good manners to help guide participants in international meetings and conferences.
Since the formation of the United Nations, we have never had to deal with the question of what constitutes a proper handshake. Apparently, at least one head of state has made it necessary to spell out in detail how and when to engage in manual greetings.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has kindly pointed out that heads of state should always shake hands when meeting and that there should be no discrimination by sex. Without naming any names, Ms. Merkel simply wishes to state that it is very rude for a president, say, to refuse to shake her hand.
Although there is no formal guideline governing the length of a handshake, it is generally agreed within the international community that a typical handshake should last approximately five seconds with an absolute maximum of ten seconds in the event that it is part of a photo opportunity. As noted by Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, nineteen seconds is way too long and verging on uncomfortable. In such a case, an eye-roll or a finger-point is a perfectly acceptable response.
There are various styles of acceptable handshakes but all have several characteristics in common. Two right hands clasp and intertwine in a firm grip. The hands are raised slightly up and down several times and then they are released.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, former FBI head James Comey and a number of world leaders have objected to the recent violations of the generally accepted handshake protocol and, in particular, the use of the inward “pull and tug” practiced by some. The UN is surprised by such an action and condemns it outright.
However, in order to maintain the appearance of civility and good manners, we do not wish to outlaw such an action or to censure its practitioner. Rather, we urge victims and potential victims to consider the following defensive and offensive countermeasures.
One successful response, known as the “Trudeau”, involves the use of one’s left hand to counter the tugging motion of the assailant. Gripping the offender’s right elbow with one’s left hand usually provides enough force and leverage to counter the tugging action.
Another effective response involves a combination of opposite tugging and extreme hand clenching action by the offended party. Known as the “Macron”, one can gauge its success by the degree of whiteness appearing on the knuckles of the right hand of the offending party.
Although yet untested, a third viable option has been proposed in the form of a passive-aggressive faux-submissive response. When the “tugger” forcefully pulls, the “tuggee” can simply succumb to the force and fall on top of the “tugger.” If possible, one should place one’s left hand on the opposite party’s chest in order to assist his backward fall and to cushion the blow for the “tuggee.”
As for complaints about the crude and abusive behavior of any particular world leader, the UN advises that parties should do their best to avoid direct confrontation. We sympathize with leaders such as Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic but would urge them to show restraint in the interests of avoiding any international incident. On the other hand, if the offender can be surreptitiously tripped without notice, we have no objection.