Cultural Pitfalls That You Need to Know
- Waving is a serious insult in Greece and in Nigeria, particularly if the hand is near someone’s face.
- Making a “good-bye wave” in Europe can mean “No,” but it means “Come here” in Peru.
- In China, last names are written first.
- A man named Carlos Lopez-Garcia should be addressed as Mr. Lopez in Latin America, but as Mr. Garcia in Brazil.
- Breakfast meetings are considered uncivilized in most foreign countries.
- Latin Americans are on average 20 minutes late to business appointments.
- Direct eye contact is impolite in Japan.
- Don’t cross your legs in any Arab or many Asian countries – it’s rude to show the sole of your shoe.
- In Brazil, touching your thumb and first finger – an American “Okay” sign – is the equivalent of raising the middle finger.
- Nodding or tossing your head back in southern Italy, Malta, Greece and Tunisia means “No.” In India, this body motion means “Yes.”
- Snapping your fingers is vulgar in France and Belgium.
- Folding your arms across your chest is a sign of annoyance in Finland.
- In China, leave some food on your plate to show that your host was so generous that you couldn’t finish.
- Do not eat with your left hand when dining with clients from Malaysia or India.
- One form of communication works the same worldwide. It’s the smile – so take that along wherever you go.
(source: Strategic Management Concepts, Fred R. David, 12th edition)
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