Be Aware of the Culture Overseas



Watch for Cultural Issues
Be well aware of the cultural issues in the countries being visited. This is an important part of your travelling etiquette. In some countries it is important to be aware of manners and culture, especially during business negotiations.

For example, some of the factors that you need to understand include the following:

  • Number 7 is bad luck in Kenya but good luck in Czech Republic. It has different connotations in Benin.
  • Number 10 is bad luck in Korea and 4 means death in Japan.
  • A nod means no in Bulgaria and yet shaking the head from side to side means yes.
  • Never touch the head of a Thailand citizen or pass an object over a head because it is considered sacred.
  • Do not use triangle shapes in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Korea because it is considered a negative shape.
  • The ‘ok' sign, used in most Western countries (thumb and index finger forming a circle with the other fingers raised) means zero in France and is the symbol for money in Japan. It also carries a vulgar connotation in Brazil.
  • The use of a palm up hand and moving index finger signals ‘come here' in Western countries but in other countries it is considered vulgar.
  • Repeatedly opening and closing the palm hand means ‘come here' in Ethiopia.
  • Watch colours because in Denmark red is positive while in some African countries it represents death and witchcraft.

It is important to pay attention to the different styles and cultures when doing business because they can make or break a developing business relationship. In some countries people will have a direct type of approach, while in others, there has to be a routine followed before the business matters can be attended to.

For example, in the Middle East you have to engage in small talk before attending to business.
And never put your arm around a new Asian business person you are having discussions with until invited. Some consider that gesture rude and threatening.






Travel Warnings

Back to Menu



In this Article: