Cultural Etiquette around the World

Knowing the cultural etiquettes of different regions in the world will not only enable you to circumvent significant faux-pas at important gatherings, dinner galas etc. but also to conduct smooth business dealings when you’re in an exotic land. In order to acquaint yourself with some of the world’s most visited countries’ culture fundamentals, we bring for you a compilation of must-know info on how to greet and mingle with people, behave during meals as well as important meetings, and adhere to vital cultural norms in these places.

Cultural Etiquette

1.United Kingdom
While there is not any strict etiquette to be followed when you’re in United Kingdom, it is important to display decent manners and remain courteous to local customs and traditions. An understanding on the four different nations that make up the United Kingdom, including England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, will prove helpful for you, as each of these places has their own set of distinct history and heritage. Greet people with a firm handshake. When invited for a dinner, party or appointment, be sure to arrive on time, and a small gift for the hostess, by way of a bunch of flowers, books or chocolates, is recommended. Likewise, it is advisable to dress formally when you need to attend a theater performance or concert.

A handshake with a polite smile and gentle nod is the general norm to greet Germans. Be it a business meeting or a social gathering, make it a point to reach a few minutes early, being the Germans extremely punctual, industrious, and perfectionist. Introduce yourself by your surname or last name. If you’re invited for a dinner, wait till your host toast the glass or say ‘Guten Appetit,’ literally meaning ‘Enjoy your food,’ in order to start a drink or meal. Fruits and sandwiches should be eaten with a knife and fork. Cross the fork and knife on plate in the event you need to take a break during meal and then continue later. Once finished eating, keep fork and knife side by side on the plate.

A popular philosophy associated with the lives of the Italians is ‘La Bella Figura,’ meaning ‘the attractive figure,’ which however is more than one’s aesthetic appeal or outward appearance and also indicates how much a person is ardent, conversant, and eloquent. It is essential to maintain eye contact when shaking hands or indulging in a significant conversation. To address people, it would be good to use ‘Signore’ instead of ‘Mr.’ and ‘Signora’ for ‘Mrs.’, followed by their surnames. As a guest, don’t start or finish your meals before your hostess does. Moreover, it is considered impolite to place your hands on the lap while eating.

4.United States of America
The Americans are generally open and friendly. Quite often, meetings are informal, with people shaking hands or simply saying “hello.” With that being said, people here are extremely time conscious and hence strictly adhere to the agenda. Contrary to most other countries, a business presentation or email with bullet points is acceptable here. When it comes to dining, following proper table manners depicts your respect towards the cultural etiquettes of the place. A dinner party usually commences when the host unfolds his napkin. If you’re in a restaurant, make sure that everyone at your table is served before you begin to eat. Do not shake to unfold napkin and let it rest on your lap till you complete your meals. Once you finish your meal, do not crumple or twist the napkin, instead leave it semi-fold.

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5.United Arab Emirates
As a global business and touristic center, the UAE welcomes people from different parts of the world. That said, one should be observant when it comes to behavior as well as dress code, being the UAE a country deeply ingrained in Islamic traditions. The Emiratis expect foreigners and expats to remain courteous to the culture and heritage. Modest dressing is recommended, and be mindful to keep your PDA in check. If you need to attend a formal dinner, make sure that you arrive on time and wait for other clients or partners before you start the meal. Don’t order alcohol while dining.

Following professional protocols, accompanied by a high degree of politeness, forms an integral part of the French cultural etiquette. Greet people with a light handshake and use words like ‘Monsieur’ or ‘Madame’ to address superiors. It is also good to know a few basic French phrases. For business meetings, be sure to put on quality business attire and groom well. Equally significant is dining etiquettes. Your hands should be visible while dining, although elbows should be off the table. Since it is considered impolite, don’t leave your plate unfinished.

For those who wish to develop strategic business relationship or friendship with the Chinese, it is vital to have a clear know-how on the culture binding the region. Never arrive late for a Chinese business meeting, as it is considered rude. A nod or handshake is enough to greet people. At a formal meal, it is regarded polite to taste all food on offer. After you finish the meal, don’t forget to leave a small quantity of food on the plate, as a token of gratitude towards the host.

Familiarizing yourself with Turkish business culture will make it easy for you to conduct a business dealing with the Turks who are extremely patriot, polite and professional. Make sure that you shake your hands with everyone present in the meeting. Being an Islamic nation, the religion forms an important part of the Turkish cultural values. Such gestures as pointing at someone using finger and displaying your feet’s soles are considered rude and sometimes offensive. When you’re expected to attend a dinner party, be sure to arrive on time. Do not leave any food on the plate, after you finish your meals.


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