Etiquette Across Cultures: Navigating the Global Maze of Manners
Etiquette2 Minutes Read

Etiquette Across Cultures: Navigating the Global Maze of Manners

December 11, 2023 Share

Is it one, two three of no kisses when greeting? Navigate the maze of global manners and dodge the “rude” label.

Land in Spain, and you’re in the land of the double-cheek kiss; an affectionate greeting that’s practically a national sport. But dare to deploy that in London, and you’re suddenly a sidewalk weirdo. Hop over to the Netherlands, and the ante ups to three kisses – because why stop at two? But let’s not get stuck at logistics; the cultural divide in etiquette runs deeper than a mere greeting. From Tokyo’s silent subways to New York’s boisterous bars, the global etiquette map is as varied as it is fascinating. Here are some of the world’s most intriguing global manners, making the navigation of this maze about more than just dodging the ‘rude’ label.

Image courtesy of Ave Calvar

Denmark’s Egalitarian Language

From Denmark, we learn about the importance of egalitarianism and modesty, reflected even in their language, which uses gender-neutral words. Danish society values the group over individual needs, and this is evident in their social etiquette and customs, including proper public behavior and family values. Interestingly, tipping is not a common practice in Denmark due to good wages for service staff and laws governing service billing​​.

Egypt’s Handshake

In Egypt, meeting and greeting etiquette varies based on class and religion. Handshakes are customary, and as relationships develop, it’s common to exchange kisses on the cheek. Gift-giving and dining etiquette also hold significant cultural value. Building personal relationships is essential in Egyptian business culture, with a focus on hierarchy and respect. Business attire is formal and conservative, reflecting the importance of appearances​​​​.

Greetings in El Salvador

El Salvador showcases its unique customs in meeting and greeting, with women often patting each other on the right forearm or shoulder instead of shaking hands. Gift-giving and dining etiquette are deeply rooted in social interactions, emphasizing respect and hospitality. Salvadorans value socializing and expect guests to reciprocate invitations and to dress well for social events​​.

Japan’s public transport

apan’s Silent Respect

Japan presents a stark contrast in social etiquette, especially noticeable in the hushed tones of its subways. Respect here is often demonstrated through silence and unspoken understanding, a world away from the loud, expressive norms of other cultures. In Japanese business and social settings, bowing replaces handshakes, symbolizing respect and humility in a society that treasures harmony and order.

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Author: Laura Scalco
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