Things You Should Know About Cultural Etiquette

flags of the world hanging from ceiling

Some of the things we consider appropriate may be rude or disrespectful in other cultures. If you are travelling to another country, research their culture to make sure you’re aware of their customs and traditions. It will make your trip so much more enjoyable if you are clued up. Here are a few things you should know about cultural etiquette.

Eye Contact

We consider eye contact to be a good communication skill, it can be seen as a form of sincerity and shows that you’re actually taking note. On the contrary, in some Asian countries, it is considered rude to make eye contact, especially with an elder or an authority.

Timing is Everything

man looking at the time

When travelling to a different time zone, make sure you know how they feel about time. In Argentina and most of South America, arriving at a social event on time is considered rude - so to arrive fashionably late would be a good idea. Although, in Denmark being late for an event is completely unacceptable.

Hand Gestures

It is considered an insult in the Middle East to shake hands with your left hand. The ‘thumbs up’ is an almost universal gesture for an approval of performance or a form of agreeing, yet the thumbs up gesture is an insult in the country of Iraq. In most Asian countries, beckoning someone with a curled finger gesture is considered rude.

Watch Your Feet

man taking his shoes off

In Japan, shoes must be removed before entering a home, restaurant, temple or store. In Arab countries it’s polite to remove the shoes when entering a home and recommended when entering a mosque. Showing the soles of feet is considered to be extremely rude in Japan and most Arab countries. The sole of the feet is considered to be the dirtiest part of the body in Japan.

Drinks and Dining

old couple pouring wine

It is disrespectful in China to pour your own drink, someone who is dining with you should pour your drink and you should pour theirs. In Argentina you should never pour wine by grasping the neck of the bottle and rotating the hand backwards so that the palm turns upwards. In Italy, foods such as fried chips, cheese, olives and small snacks are still eaten with a knife and fork.

We want to know if you've ever come across these customs while travelling abroad or any other interesting customs, feel free to comment below!

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