Why don’t we give strangers high-fives?

Go ahead, high-five a stranger (or my roommate).

This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know. Why don’t we see somebody who is working out and in need of motivation and raise a hand to them in support, saying “Hey, you. I see you doing good things for your body. Keep those good things up. I support you” and offering them a push forward?

Okay, I guess I know the answer: people are awkward. They are afraid of being embarrassed by the prospect of human interaction with a stranger that may end up more mortifying than it was worth, but this thinking is totally flawed. Consider for a moment a time when a stranger did something bold and made you feel good. Maybe they said you looked nice, they liked your shoes or they thought you were doing something great. Wasn’t that such a good feeling? Well, that person had to step out of their comfort zones and approach you. Why then, knowing how amazing it was (and what a great story it became to tell later) wouldn’t we just do it?

It’s definitely not difficult unless you are lacking some serious hand-eye coordination and don’t want to be charged with battery. All you have to do is stick your hand out and off it up for a high-five. Maybe you don’t want to make physical contact with a sweaty stranger, and that’s fine. Shoot them a thumbs- up or offer some encouraging words. As long as you are sincere and you make an effort, it will most likely be appreciated.

“But Amanda,” you may ask, “what if my efforts go unnoticed, or worse, become the subject of rude behavior or ridicule?”

Well, it’s simple: move on. The beauty of this system is that they are still a stranger. The odds of you meeting them again and having them recognize you are so slim that you have nothing to fear. And honestly, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Making somebody’s day or giving them the last ounce of energy to finish their run is what we should be doing for each other as fellow human to fellow human. Plus, who knows, maybe you’ll see them again when you go to a job interview and they’ll like your bold yet personable attitude (Please let me know if this gets you hired so I can tell people about it.).

If you ever see me and throw up a sincere high-five, know that I will always take it. It’s fun, it’s pleasant and it gets those feel-good chemicals like oxytocin flowing. So, go ahead, be bold. You may even accidentally find you like it and start getting it in return.


2 thoughts on “Why don’t we give strangers high-fives?

  1. That’s a really great suggestion, but in today’s world it isn’t that simple. If you’re a guy in India who even says hi to a girl who he doesn’t know, he could be falsely accused or “branded” as a pervert of some sort. But on the bright side, I live in a suburb in Japan where everyone’s interactive and high-fives during marathons or other such events. Today’s world is so complex that something as simple can be a security issue.


    1. Nightowlforever,

      The world is very definitely complex. Social cues mean very different things in different cultures, and the positive or negative reactions to a specific gesture can vary. I hope that in my writing, people see a universal idea and can apply their own cultural norms. A high-five isn’t a worldwide gesture, but there is almost always something that could be done in its place to show a kind of community feeling. I am glad to hear that you live in an interactive community like the one you have described.

      High-fives from Indiana,


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