December 4, 2020

Avoiding Cultural Faux Pas

What is culture? Often it is something we don’t put much thought into — the customs or common behaviors we participate in without thinking about them. Consider when you meet people for the first time. As an American, you’re likely to smile or nod and offer your right hand to shake the other person’s; that is an instinctive response. However, in different countries, a handshake isn’t the standard. For instance, in Japan people traditionally bow to each other, while male and female friends in Latin America will hug hello. The French often embrace friends with a kiss, and in Russia, it is normal to greet someone without smiling.

Studying more about the traditions and cultures of people from around the world can expand your understanding of a foreign language, prepare you for travel or simply widen your horizons. It can also stop you from making a faux pas if you visit or meet someone from another nation.

As humans, we all eat, drink, work, socialize and more. Learning about the different ways in which we coexist can be both interesting and rewarding. For more standards of cultural etiquette from around the world, check out the accompanying infographic.

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