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Pointing and Slurping: Dos and Don'ts of World Etiquette

In a rapidly globalizing world, understanding and respecting cultural differences has never been more crucial. One of the most immediate and impactful ways to bridge these gaps is through good manners. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first international adventure, this guide will help you navigate the intricate web of global etiquette.


  • Do: Take off your shoes before entering someone's home in many Asian cultures.

  • Don't: Use your chopsticks to spear your food.

  • Do: Slurp your soup in Japan. It is considered a sign of appreciation for the food.

  • Don't: Talk loudly on the phone in public in Japan. It is considered rude.

  • Do: Bow when greeting someone in Thailand. The lower the bow, the greater the respect.

  • Don't: Touch someone's head in Thailand. It is considered sacred.

Middle East:

  • Do: Greet people with a handshake, but avoid shaking hands with the opposite sex unless they initiate it.

  • Don't: Show public displays of affection.

  • Do: Dress modestly when in public. This means covering your shoulders and knees.

  • Don't: Eat or drink with your left hand. It is considered unclean in many Muslim cultures.

  • Do: Accept food and drink when it is offered to you. It is considered rude to refuse.


  • Do: Greet elders with respect. This may involve shaking their hands, bowing, or kneeling.

  • Don't: Whistle or snap your fingers to get someone's attention. It is considered rude.

  • Do: Ask permission before taking someone's photograph.

  • Don't: Wear revealing clothing. It is considered disrespectful in many African cultures.

  • Do: Be patient and understanding. Things may move at a slower pace in Africa than you are used to.

South America:

  • Do: Greet people with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek, depending on the country.

  • Don't: Be late for appointments. Punctuality is important in most South American cultures.

  • Do: Try to learn a few basic phrases in the local language. It shows that you are making an effort.

  • Don't: Talk loudly in public. It is considered rude in many South American cultures.

  • Do: Be respectful of elders. They are held in high regard in most South American cultures.


  • Do: Use the correct greeting for the country you are in. For example, in France, you say "bonjour" during the day and "bonsoir" in the evening.

  • Don't: Talk about religion or politics unless you are sure that it is acceptable. These topics can be sensitive in Europe.

  • Do: Queue politely when waiting for something.

  • Don't: Litter. It is considered rude in most European countries.

  • Do: Be respectful of people's personal space. This means avoiding standing too close to someone or touching them without their permission.

These are just a few examples of dos and don'ts of good manners around the world. It is important to remember that every culture is different, so it is always best to do your research before traveling to a new country.


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