Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There's More Than One Way to Give Someone the Finger

A USA Today article, "Foreign Etiquette for Americans: A Guide to Do's and Dont's Abroad," says, "Inexperienced North American business travelers commit etiquette blunders more than 70% of the time when doing business abroad, says Ann Marie Sabath, author of Business Etiquette: 101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm and Savvy."

Here's a list of gestures that are considered offensive in other countries:

1. In Brazil you do not make an okay gesture with your thumb and index finger — it's a gesture akin to extending a middle finger in the USA.

2. In the United Kingdom, don't stick up an index finger and a middle finger with the palm of your hand facing you. "It's the equivalent of giving someone the finger," Lonely Planet says.

3. In Greece, don't wave to anyone with an open palm — even when greeting a friend. And don't show your palm, though you might think to do so when gesturing for someone to wait or hold on, or showing the number five. "It is essentially the way one flips someone the bird in Greece, but more than that, it states, 'I reject you,'" according to Lonely Planet.

4. In Asia, It's bad etiquette to point at objects or people with your feet, and don't prop your feet on chairs or tables while sitting. Never touch any part of someone's body with your foot, "which is considered the lowest part of the body," the guidebook publisher says. "If you accidentally do this, apologize by touching your hand to the person's arm and then touching your own head." [An additional note: in some Asian cultures it's considered extremely rude to cross your legs and expose the soles of your feet to the person facing you.]

This is just a small sample of the rules of etiquette that one must be aware of when traveling abroad.

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