If you’re a big tipper, you could be big in South Africa. If you’re generous with your hugs, you’ll likely be embraced by the people of Brazil and Spain. But if you wear your Sunday best to business meetings, you’re going to look out of place in Ireland. Across the world, the gestures and behaviors that make up our day-to-day life vary in subtle but important ways that can help us to accustom ourselves to the areas we visit, and on occasion even prevent us getting in trouble. Conversely, if you’re sick of the tardiness of your compatriots or want to visit somewhere that you’ll actually be given some personal space for a change, it’s comforting to know there are certain areas that we might be able to fit in with our own personal preferences.
Of course, it’s not a failsafe approach, and often the same kind of behavior may mean different things or have a different heritage in different countries. Did you know, for example, that far from a gesture of solidarity, tipping in America dates back to the country’s post-Civil War bourgeoisie, who travelled to Europe and picked up the custom like a souvenir to impress and belittle their less well-off compatriots? Or that in Singapore, tipping really means something – that it’s rare, but used when the service really demands applause?
Below is a roadmap for regional manners: this flowchart from Expedia will help you find the place that you’ll fit in best. Whether it’s eating with your right hand only in Indonesia or politely leaving gifts unopened until the party’s over in Colombia, you’ll be surprised how many of our basic manners are considered alien by those from other places. It’s a great opportunity to come together and celebrate the wild and varied differences that make us human.
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