As more people travel around the globe with increasing regularity, making the right first impression begins at “Hello.” Note that greeting practices remain localized, rather than globalized (Tweet it!). Writing in The New York Times’ “What In the World” column far-flung journalist Andrew Jacobs offers some valuable tips:
- Air kisses—where lips never touch the cheek—are customary in many countries, but rules vary. In most of the Arab world, a double air kiss is obligatory, though only between members of the same sex. Argentine men will cheek-kiss one another, but only if they are friends of friends. Things can get complicated in France, as this map illustrates: Expect anywhere from four kisses (in Nantes) down to two (in Toulouse) or a single peck (in Brest).
- Kissing or touching strangers is frowned upon in Asia. The customary greeting in Thailand involves a bow with the palms pressed together, as if in prayer; similar gestures are common from Cambodia to Indonesia.
- In India, a limp handshake between men is fine, but don’t try it with a member of the opposite sex.
- Tibetans have one of the most unusual traditional gestures for greeting others: They stick out their tongues. Do not try this at home!
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