Home > Kids > Values and Responsibilities > Manners > Gracious Greetings Between Cultures
|

Gracious Greetings Between Cultures

When greeting someone, an American's first instinct is to stick out his or her hand, look directly at the other person, and smile. In some situations, this habit can mean making three mistakes at once. And the moment of greeting is when crucial first impressions are made. Methods and styles of greeting vary greatly around the world, and you need to know which practices apply in different circumstances.

Faux Pas

A handshake is not the universally approved greeting. Also, “Look 'em right in the eye” is not always the best advice.

Live and Learn

Same-sex hand holding, seen by some as a signal of a homosexual relationship, is a common gesture of friendship in many countries, particularly Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.

  • When greeting Asians for the first time, do not initiate the handshake. You may be forcing a physical contact that the other person finds uncomfortable. Many Asians, particularly Japanese, have learned to accept the handshake when dealing with Westerners. Because the bow is the customary greeting in Japan, a slight bow of the head when responding to a proffered handshake is appropriate. Westerners generally are not expected to be familiar with the complex Japanese bowing protocols.
  • Most Latinos are more accustomed to physical contact. Even people who know each other only slightly may embrace when greeting.
  • Middle Easterners, particularly Muslims, avoid body contact with the opposite sex, but persons of the same sex commonly hug when greeting each other. When shaking hands, men should be careful not to pull their hand away too quickly. Orthodox Jews also avoid all physical contact with those of the opposite sex who are not family members.
  • People from France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal greet friends by kissing on both cheeks.
  • The smile is the near-universal gesture of friendliness, and in America its meaning is usually clear. The person smiling is happy, amused, and/or sending out a friendly signal. In other cultures the smile may be sending other signals. In some Latin cultures, for example, the smile may be used to say “Excuse me” or “Please.”
  • If a person from another culture does not return your greeting smile, it doesn't indicate hostility or bad manners. In some Asian cultures, smiling is a gesture to be reserved for informal occasions, and smiling while being formally introduced would be considered disrespectful.
  • In many cultures, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect, but such behavior can lead to misunderstandings. For example, some Korean shopkeepers have been accused of disrespecting their non-Korean customers because the shopkeepers avoided making eye contact. The same sort of misunderstanding has occurred between American teachers and Asian students who do not look at the teacher while he or she is speaking.

More on: Manners

|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette © 2004 by Mary Mitchell. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

family games

Everything you need for family game night!


highlights

Printable 2015 Fun Facts Calendar
Check out our Pin 2015 interactive calendar with "this day in history" facts, links, and activities for each day that the whole family can enjoy. Or fill in your own events with this blank 2015 calendar.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

12 New Social Media Apps Every Parent Should Know About
Learn about 12 trendy social media apps teens are flocking to — beyond Facebook and Twitter — and get tips for protecting your child from cyberbullying, predators, and other online safety hazards.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!