One if the most important TravelSkills you can possess is the ability to say a confident “hello” and proper greeting in the language and custom of your host country.
Trying to impose “the American way” of saying hello on your foreign counterparts could likely backfire and get your relationships off to a rocky start. (American way = firm handshake, direct eye contact.)
Over the last two decades of frequent global travel, I’ve found that the best way to get off on the right foot in a foreign country is to surprise your host with an unaccented “hello” and a few words in the local language. It takes a little practice to get just right, but the payoff is big. Try it and you’ll see!
Last week The London Speaker Bureau (one the the largest in the world) released the infographic below to help everyone make a good first impression.
Reading through this infographic, I had a few a-ah! moments such as:
>It’s proper to shake womens’ hands before mens’ when greeting a group in Germany
>The prevalence of “fist bumps” as a greeting in Caribbean countries like Belize, Jamaica, Grenada. (I’m not sure if they are apropos in a formal setting though.)
>Sweep your hand over your heart in Singapore and Middle Eastern countries.
>State your last name while shaking hands in the Netherlands.
Keep in mind that an infographic like this is by no means the ultimate authority when it comes to local customs, so be sure to do more research. Have you been to, or are you from any of the countries mentioned here? Did they get it right? Please leave your comments below.