Etiquette Around the World: A Guide to Being Polite in 10 Different Countries
As the world becomes more connected through globalization and travel, it’s important to be aware of cultural differences and customs when interacting with people from other countries. What might be considered polite in one country could be seen as rude or offensive in another. To help with navigating these differences, customer service software company Zendesk has compiled an etiquette guide for 10 different countries. Here’s a breakdown of some of the tips they suggest:
In Japan, respect is paramount. It’s important to wait for others to finish speaking before responding, and to avoid interrupting or speaking loudly. Japanese people also value punctuality, so it’s important to arrive on time for meetings and appointments. When exchanging business cards, it’s customary to use both hands and to make a small bow.
Like Japan, respect and politeness are key values in Chinese culture. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s common to exchange business cards and offer a small gift as a sign of respect. Chinese people also value modesty, so it’s important to refrain from boasting or bragging about oneself. When dining, it’s customary to offer the first toast to the host.
Although many people may see the French as being rude or arrogant, they actually value etiquette and manners highly. When greeting someone, it’s customary to offer a brief handshake or a kiss on each cheek. French people also appreciate formal titles like “Madame” or “Monsieur” and may take offense if they are not used. When dining, it’s important to wait until the host signals it’s time to begin eating.
In India, hospitality is a cornerstone of culture. Guests are treated with utmost respect and may be greeted with a small gift or flower garland. It’s important to remove shoes before entering someone’s home, and to avoid touching someone’s head or feet (as they are considered sacred). When dining, it’s common to eat with one’s hands as a sign of togetherness and respect for the food.
Brazilians are known for their warm and welcoming personalities. When meeting someone, it’s customary to embrace and kiss each cheek. Brazilians also appreciate good conversation and value engaging with others. When dining, it’s important to wait for the host to begin eating, and to pace oneself throughout the meal.
In Russia, respect for authority and tradition is highly valued. When meeting someone in a formal setting, it’s customary to offer a small gift or flowers as a sign of respect. Russians also appreciate directness and may see beating around the bush as a sign of weakness. When dining, it’s customary to toast with vodka or a similar strong drink.
Italians are known for their warmth and hospitality. When greeting someone, it’s customary to kiss on both cheeks and to use formal titles like “Signor” or “Signora.” Italians also value punctuality and may become frustrated if others are late. When dining, it’s customary to eat bread with meals and to refrain from putting cheese on pasta dishes.
Australians are known for their laid-back and informal attitudes. When greeting someone, it’s common to offer a handshake or a wave. Australians also value equality and may take offense if someone flaunts their wealth or status. When dining, it’s customary to offer to split the bill evenly among everyone at the table.
In Egypt, respect for elders and religious traditions is highly valued. When meeting someone, it’s customary to offer a small gift or to shake hands while placing the other hand over one’s heart. Egyptians also value indirect communication, and may take offense at direct statements or criticism. When dining, it’s common to eat with one’s hands and to scoop food from a shared dish.
South Africans are known for their hospitality and friendly attitudes. When greeting someone, it’s common to offer a handshake or a hug. South Africans also value respect for elders and may use formal titles like “Auntie” or “Uncle.” When dining, it’s customary to share dishes and to offer some food to others before eating oneself.
Learning about cultural differences and customs can go a long way in showing respect and building relationships with people from other countries. By following these etiquette tips from Zendesk’s guide, you can navigate unfamiliar social situations with ease and grace.