Couple words on observing customs & learning etiquette…
“Ounce of Prevention = Pound of Cure”
Wherever you may visit, do a bit of homework ahead of time.
This goes whether you’re a weekend tourist or relocating indefinitely. When I say being prepared, I mean more than just packing your toothbrush and having enough underwear. Basic preparation means knowing things like:
- – What language do they speak?
- – What currency do they use? (Can you exchange some prior arrival?)
- – How to get from the airport to your hotel? City transportation system? Transfer stops? End point?
Those are basic questions. But what about these…
How much do I tip? (Is tipping normal?)
- – What gestures might be offensive (Is the “okay” sign
- – What to wear? Bare shoulders okay? Flip-flops expected? (
big range here!)
- – How to eat & drink? (Do I tip it back as “one shot!” or sip by sip?)
– What does “About 20 minutes” really mean?
What You Know…What You Don’t Know
These are just some of many questions to answer.
Some things you pick up by watching others.
Some things you pick up after making 1 mistake.
But the real issues arise when we’re not even aware when we don’t know we’re making a mistake. (Not to mention, with some cultural awareness first, you’ll make an arse of youself less often) heehee
How you come across to your hosts will depend on how you prepare ahead of time.
It is so valuable to learn at least a little about your destination before getting there. That goes doubly so for people who plan to work there. Like I said above, your experience will be tons better if you take a bit of time to learn some etiquette first.
Do you plan to meet and interface with local workers (especially potential customers!)? Then consider this:
– How close should I stand?
– People greet each other by a nod, handshake, hug, kiss, or …? Females the same?
– How much eye contact to make? What could too much mean or too little?
– How late is late? Are deadlines absolute or do we have “all the time in the world”?
If you going to be interacting with local coworkers, get prepared for your destination country!
If you’re into buying books, I’m throwing together a list of countries below. Each has a link to a book (through Amazon) offering tips on culture and etiquette. These guides not expensive, nearly all cost only $12, some lower. So, for the price of a meal, you will save a lot of face, a lot of potential hassle and very likely you’ll save money.
Good luck, wherever you go!