How to behave in different countries (part 2)
Continuing the theme of the unusual rules of behavior in different countries, I want to show a few more examples of unconventional approach to etiquette and to give some general guidelines. After all it is easier to avoid problems than to try to rehabilitate yourself in the eyes of a foreigner!
At the table
It is believed that a simple handshake was once a way to show your companion that you are not hiding weapons. Such a usual custom for us as clink glasses during a toast also has similar roots – allegedly while touching it is easy to mix the contents of the neighboring glasses. Although, there are some other versions.
There is another way to show your courtesy at the table. In many European countries drinkers should look in the eyes of all the guests during the toast. Thus they prove their honesty to them. If you are a member of a large and friendly company it takes a lot of time, but tradition is tradition!
If you are a lover of tea gatherings, never ask to fill the cup to the brim. At least when you are in Kazakhstan. According to an old tradition, the host doesn’t pour tea into the guest’s cup to the brim, if doesn’t want him to quit as soon as possible. A full cup means a hint, that it’s time for you to leave.
A couple of tips about the most ordinary things – such natural needs as a cough for example. In China, you can be completely free to cough and blow your nose publicly – this is normal. However, in South Korea, such behavior contradicts the norms of etiquette. Be careful if suddenly your easy runny nose makes itself felt at the dinner table! It will brand you as the last barbarian. It will be especially difficult if you are unaccustomed to the ever-present smell of spicy sauce “Gochujang” which will contribute to this. Therefore, if you feel that you have trouble with the nose, apologize and go to the bathroom. By the way, in Japan, it is also considered to be indecently when you use a handkerchief on the public.
On a visit
If you are planning a trip to Tanzania, the following advice will come in handy. If you’re a punctual person, forget about it during your stay in this country. When you come in time or beforehand it is considered to be an insult. While lateness is the norm. Especially if you are going to come for a visit, you should be late for 20-30 minutes.
The following rule – thank silently. Ironically, Western upbringing (and not only), teaches us that a simple “thank you” and “please” are among the first words that children learn. In the Arab and South Asian countries, when you are thanking your hosts, you can put them as well as yourselves into an awkward position. Too “hot” gratitude implies that they did more than it was expected and, accordingly, you are doing a favor for them. The hospitality in these countries is considered to be quite commonplace, it is simply a customary thing. Therefore, it is best not to emphasize this.
Never show your soles in the Arab countries. Of course, no one shows them specially, but you must be ensured not to show them randomly! Here, the shoe soles are considered to be unclean; to throw shoes into someone is all the same to throw garbage or waste. According to the teachings of Buddha, legs are the lowest part of the body, in every sense – spiritual and physical. Be careful when you, for example, sit with legs crossed. Showing the soles even accidentally means a serious insult. This rule is spread almost everywhere in Asia.
Another rule associated with Buddhism – do not touch the head. For a long time, in many parts of the world, especially in the countries of Southeast Asia, it is believed that the human soul inhabits precisely in the head – the sacred part of the body.
In Turkey, you will become an object of oblique views if you stand with your hands in pockets. Such a gesture is considered disrespectful.