Manners And Taboos: Advice For Watching Yourself Abroad

Friday, December 11, 2009


We all know different cultures have their specific intricacies, and it takes a little research to become aware of them when traveling. Even I remember a friend of mine in Korea, very politely saying, “Jon, ah . . . that is, maybe, a little bit rude.” After a thousand apologies and deep bows, I was instructed on the specifics of the gesture I was using (and it’s not the one you’re thinking).

Conde Naste and MSNBC dug up some of these touchy topics, and even rank ordered them by their offensiveness — how nice. Offering many specifics on places like Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Canada, and even America, they give one overarching and valuable piece of advice we all should keep in mind when interacting with, really, anyone: “Entering with an open mind and a do-no-harm approach is essential, and in many cases a focus on the simple things (friends, food, family) can create an oasis of peaceful coexistence.”

As for that mannerism I left you hanging with, the western “come here” motion with your hand is a palm up, flap of the fingers towards you — maybe a little bit rude in Korea. There, make sure you conduct that same motion with your palm down. Don’t say I never helped.

© 2019