While we are sitting here at the British Airways Executive Lounge awaiting our flight to South Africa we came across some kinda interesting and a bit funny information, well not we but Marc Accetta my friend/mentor for over 10 years was reading it and telling me about it and I found it online and figured I would share this article for everyone to just have a bit more info when traveling around the world…Enjoy and please let me know of other gestures that might help others stay out of trouble!!!
Frequent business traveller Scott McKain learned a valuable lesson many years ago about etiquette abroad.
On a trade mission in Brazil in 1974, McKain’s mouth was full at a welcome dinner when a local mayor asked whether he was enjoying his first Brazilian meal. McKain made an OK gesture with his thumb and index finger—a gesture akin to extending a middle finger here.
“The mayor literally dropped his jaw and his fork,” recalls McKain, an author and professional speaker in Fishers, Ind. “Fortunately, my age and inexperience allowed the more seasoned members of our delegation to prevent any lasting damage from my mistake—and we all ended up in laughter minutes later. But it taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.”
Since that first trip abroad at age 18, McKain says, he studies the customs and etiquette of each country before arriving.
Many travellers like McKain have made a faux pas in another country. Such a blunder can be embarrassing and insulting—and even damage a business relationship.
“A potential mistake in business ultimately has higher stakes, and perhaps more sensitivity, than a traveller who flubbed an interaction one-on-one with a café worker or laundromat attendant,” says Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet.
At USA Today’s request, Lonely Planet put together a list of etiquette tips in the following situations for North Americans heading abroad:
• In France, never discuss money over dinner, and splitting the bill “is considered the height of unsophistication.”
• In Mexico, whenever you catch the eye of someone who’s eating—even a stranger—it’s good manners to say, “Provecho,” which means enjoy.
• In Sweden, it’s considered vulgar to clink glasses unless you say, “Skals,” which means cheers.
• At a pub in Australia, it’s customary to buy a round of drinks for everyone in your group.
• In Russia, a 10 per cent tip is customary at a restaurant. Prices in stores are usually firm, but it’s OK to make a bid somewhat lower than a merchant’s price at markets and souvenir stalls.
• In Greece, don’t wave to anyone with an open palm. 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,’ ” Lonely Planet says.
• 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.”
• Travellers to Thailand shouldn’t be alarmed if locals pick their noses while talking to you. “It’s considered a natural act of good hygiene,” Lonely Planet says.
• In the Caribbean, address people with titles such as “mister” or “professor” until a first name is explicitly offered, Lonely Planet says.
Inexperienced North American business travellers “commit etiquette blunders more than 70 per cent of the time when doing business abroad,” says Ann Marie Sabath, author of “Business Etiquette: 101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm & Savvy.”
Common oversights include not bringing a gift made in your home country for a first meeting with a client, not saying good morning, good afternoon or good evening and not expressing interest in a country’s history and culture, Sabath says. Other faux pas are taking a foreign client to lunch and talking about business, and assuming that a handshake rather than a kiss or bow is an appropriate introduction, she says.
McKain, who insulted the Brazilian mayor on his first trip abroad, says he always learns how to say “thank you” in the language of the country he plans to visit and always apologizes about his lack of fluency.
“It is remarkable how wonderful people can be when you have a humble and sincere desire to learn more about their culture and are not reticent about doing things their way,” says the author and speaker.
© 2011, USA Today.