Before venturing to a certain destination, it is desirable to be well informed about the local customs and etiquette. The first thing you should learn is how to greet people according to different cultures and different parts of the world. This way you will avoid a number of unpleasant situations that may occur. Also, this way you would show your respect to the local population, the act that will always be awarded with a higher level of courtesy and hospitality.
When you meet new people abroad, especially in countries where the culture is significantly different from your own, it’s easy to get confused. Do you need to shake hands, nod or give a friendly kiss on the cheek? Here’s how the things work with greetings in Europe.
Europeans greet each other most often with a kiss on the cheek
In the continental part of the Old Continent, a kiss on the cheek is the most common way of greeting. A number of these little kisses varies from one country to another. That’s how they do it in Spain, in Belgium, in Italy and in France.
The usual greeting in France is represented by two kisses, one on each cheek. However, the number of kisses can vary depending on the region where you are located. Thus, in Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux you should expect one on every cheek, for a total of two. In Lille it is a custom in to kiss each other 3 times. If you are not sure, it is best to start with a kiss on the right cheek and let the other person to “lead” and to determine the number of kisses. In some of the European countries, it is enough just to shake hands. But there are different ways of touching the palms.
In Russia, the standard way of greeting is a strong handshake. On the other hand, in England, it is not exactly desirable for a handshake to be so strong.
If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of any of the Turkish series, you’ve surely noticed that they shake hands using both their palms. The Turks will give you an honest welcome with both their hands with the fingers facing down. The usual greeting in most of the countries from all around the world is waving an open palm. Nonetheless, in Greece it is considered offensive. Most Greeks greet each other with a pat on the back. Of course, you must not forget to add a wide and sincere smile to any of these gestures.
Watch out your body language
In order to avoid to unwillingly offending your hosts, you should pay attention to your body language and nonverbal communication. Some of the gestures that are common in your country may not be considered appropriate or could even be offensive. The locals in Italy, Belgium and Spain would take it as an insult if you keep touching your chin with your fingertips. Such gestures tell that somebody is undesirable in the company and that they should leave. If you ever travel to the land of Nokia, the Scandinavian beauty of Finland, do not cross your arms. Because of this common movement, locals can characterize you as arrogant.
If you are in the UK or Italy, lifting two fingers up, usually the index finger and middle finger, will send an ugly and offensive message. The same thing applies in Greece and Spain for connecting the thumb and forefinger, while the other three fingers remain rose.
Also, if you travel to Turkey, do not forget to leave a tip to the staff. It is implied in this country, and the amount should be about 10% of the total cost.