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How do you greet someone in your culture?

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FiXato
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How do you greet someone in your culture?
PostPosted: Sun 13 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Having met people from various cultures have made me aware that not everyone appreciates or expects the same kinds of greetings.
For instance, in the Netherlands a common greeting is kissing on the cheeks (3 times!, so left, right, left), but when I visited Siiw's grandmother for the first time, I quite surprised her with that greeting, as giving a 'klem' (pressing the cheeks against each other) is more common there.

So, if you meet someone, how do you greet them?
Is there a difference between men greeting other men, men greeting women and women greeting other women?
Is greeting someone you don't know differently from someone you have met before and is it different from greeting someone you know very well? What about family members?

For instance, I've grown up with offering a handshake to strangers.
Family members and people I've known for longer can expect a kisses on the cheeks (left, right and then left again), though only between women, or between women and men. Other men are commonly greeted with a handshake or a brief hug / pat on the back/shoulder.

However, in my circle of friends it has become more common to greet each other with a firm hug, sometimes accompanied by 3 kisses on the cheeks.

When I'm in Norway however, I tend to stick to handshakes, or when I know the person better, a 'klem', in other words pressing the cheeks together. Though occasionally I try to give a Dutch spin to it by doing this 3 times. tounge2

Especially with international meetings like to occasional LD4all meeting, everyone's different cultural experiences can give some perhaps awkward situations. So, what are you used to and how would you react in those situations?


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MrLucidZombie
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Well, my earliest ancenstors probably said Guttentag since they were German, but then they went to Holland, England, Sweden, Basically all around Europe and then to the USA and Canada. But since I am American, a simple Hello and/or a handshake or wave.


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Bruno
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Oh boy, is that a point of confusion here in Brazil!

You'll be safe anywhere more or less urbanized greeting anyone with a handshake. Women will be excused to greet each other with cheek-kisses more or less everywhere. Being a reasonably patriarcal society, in Brazil men will greet women, and they can start a handshake or a cheek kiss depending on area, both are fine mostly everywhere though a handshake is more professional and a cheek kiss less formal.

In So Paulo, a cheek kiss means ONE cheek kiss (lean your head to the left, touch the right cheeks). In Rio, that'll be two. Elsewhere, it'll be something from one to three kisses (the "three to marry" trope in some regions making this even more confusing than strictly necessary).

Men can greet men with handshakes, pound hugs ("man hugs"), actual hugs or cheek kisses depending on formality and proximity. A cheek kiss between men is a token of proximity and trust, rather than sexuality, though a few gay men will greet any other gay man with a cheek kiss.

Though this sounds like enough material for an Etiquette manual, it's hard to get things wrong (especially if you lean towards formal or let the other party start the greeting and just follow along). You'll know what to do. It's a cultural osmosis things. Most gringos I host don't sweat it.


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FiXato
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

My post at Google Plus also got a reply showing that even within the Netherlands there is a bit of differences in the way of cheek kissing. As the replying poster indicated, to her it is uncommon that the lips actually touch the cheeks; making it more of an air kiss.
I have noticed that in the more 'upper class' circles this sometimes seems to go to an even extreme form where not even the cheeks meet and the air kisses are heavily exaggerated accompanied by 'mwwwoooaah' sounds.

Oooh, the joys of cultural differences and etiquettes. tounge2

Thanks for your reply too Bruno! "Three to marry" is an interesting one I must keep in mind! o_O


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Eilatan
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Wow. Come to Aus and you guys will be confused like crazy. It really depends on the person, the culture and the generation. In America, everyone shook my hand, I was so confused! Let's see if I can explain why:

School chums usually just wave at each other, no real confusion there. High schoolers as far as girls do the cheek kiss, boys will do the "slap handshake" sometimes with the back-pat hug. A girl greeting a boy can go either way, depending on how close they are. I find the girls closer to boys usually join in their funny handshake. Though in high school, we usually wave, too.

Of course, out of highschool and in uni we do about the same thing, but some people will give handshakes. It really depends, business people will always handshake, though (Including professors and the like).

I'm Assyrian, so we do what Fix described as the "klem" to greet women. Men handshake, but they're more likely to do the klem to girls, except when the girl wants a handshake. (I usually handshake my uncles, but I've never seen them handshake a girl unless the girl is close family). With the klem though, everyone seems to have a different amount of times. I'm a one cheek person, but I've known people to go left-right-left-right. x_x It's crazy, and I always just let the other person decide. I generally wave to my cousin's, though!

In Wing Chun we're all of different ages and backgrounds, so we mostly wave, do slap-handshakes, or hug. Hugging is usually reserved for close friends in any background, but I tend to hug everyone who doesn't shy away, because I love hugs.

Oh, and just to add to the craziness that is Aus, I have been bowed to before by an Asian gentleman! Very confusing society, if you ask me. tounge2



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Siiw
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

FiXato has pretty much covered the Norwegian ways with his experiences, but I'll add my own.

We always shake hands at first meetings. Both young and old people do that, both male and female. School children don't do that to each other, they just wave like Eilatan describes.

Most Norwegians don't touch others a lot, and at least not strangers. Hugs are for family and close friends, and the version that FiXato describes is a formalised version of the hug that is common between women and more distant family members. To make an example, when I saw the owner of the a former workplace greet the newly hired manager in that way, I knew it would mean trouble. tounge1 I haven't paid close attention to what men do between themselves.

What people say also differs a lot, but a "good morning"/"good evening" is appropriate in most contexts.



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Eilatan
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Oh, what I also found odd about American greetings was that they always shook your hand and said "Nice to meet you". They all seemed very formal.

Siiw, why did the greet mean trouble? And I also only hug close family/friends, but I do generally hug anyone I've known for a while. I even hug people I've known online and have just met, because well, it feels right. tounge1 But I generally can tell when someone is too shy to hug, and tend to give them their personal space.



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Czaranis
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

In England we tend to just shake hands and say 'pleased to meet you' when greeting a stranger, or just say hi and/or wave to friends. I personally, however, use 'Y HALO THAR!' as a greeting/catchphrase.


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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Bruno discribed what happens in Brazil a lot better than I could. I personally feel awkward doing the cheek kiss thing with girls I don't know, specially if there are many of them overspannen . Mostly because I never know what's expected of me, so I rather just wave and look at my feet lach1

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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

In Germany it also depends greatly on aspects like age, situation and social status, not so much on gender though.

The general greeting is the handshake. That you can basically do in every situation and with everyone.
In informal situations you can also find hugs (more among girls than boys, unless close) or sometimes but very rarely cheek-kissing, but that I have only seen between schoolgirls.

But in general Germans like to keep quite some distance between each other and it's usually a very good idea to rather not engage in physical contact beyond the handshake, unless the other person indicates something.

In general, women and old/respectful people deserve a tiny bit of extra courtesy, e.g. being greeted first, or standing up while greeting them. But that's not overly important.


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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

It's fairly simple in America. When first meeting someone, a shaking hands is about the most to expect physically, and then general statements of "Hello", "Nice to meet you", etc. We rarely kiss cheeks in America, even among those we know, it's more a romantic display in our country.

Greeting friends is much more informal. Sometimes there's just a "hi", and for younger guys the ever-popular "bro-hug" (starts like a handshake, turns into a hug with pats on the back) is common. I hug all of my female friends, and male friends if I'm close to them and they don't mind the breach in personal space.

Of course, there will always be variants among the type of people you're around. When I'm around the elderly or anyone above forty really, I am much more formal. However I like to make first impressions so I'm generally very nice and sweet to anyone I don't know very well


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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Some interesting fact I forgot to mention about greeting in Germany is that you can also greet people very often. Some colleagues at work like to shake hands every day with people they know and stumble upon. I integrate myself into my surrounding my doing the same. But it's not the same everywhere, however this is not the first workplace I'm at where such a tradition is kept tounge1

This can be somewhat irritating, especially since people try to avoid shaking hands more than exactly once per day with you. So basically you have to remember for everyone you've met if this is the first time today or not. And having your hands full is also not very often an acceptable excuse for not shaking hands. You'll need to find a solution how to solve that tounge1

It's a lot easier with people you barely know or don't know at all. For those you just need to pick the right greeting according to the time of the day.


Some memories about my stay in Japan: There people often greet each other with a nod or a short bow, depending on if it's rather in passing by or properly meeting. When I was led around the department and introduced to the important people, I bowed properly to everybody, which was I think the right thing to do.
The angle at which you bow and all that stuff is also very complicated in their culture, form what I hear, and generally looked more submissive to me (instead of honourable).

Something that I observed, but it might not be true or just coincidence: When people leave office the say goodbye in a small bow too, which seemed to be a very low bow if they leave earlier, and a rather lazy excuse of a bow if they are leaving very late, after having a long working day.


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FiXato
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PostPosted: Mon 14 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

While handshakes are quite common throughout the world, I also know there are some cultures where shaking hands is actually frowned upon (sometimes just between different genders, and sometimes regardless of gender). Does anyone have personal experience with this? Or perhaps even better: does anyone here feel awkward when someone tries to shake hands with them?

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Eilatan
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

I feel awkward with hand shaking. I'm use to it being a formal thing. Before America I had only shaken hands with Principals and Professors or when accepting something like an award. Other than that, I only really know it to be used in business settings, and only when first meeting or first being introduced to someone. I've never heard of it being frowned upon, though. o.o


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EllyEve
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Jan, 2013  Reply with quote

Hugs and cheek-kisses are also standard greetings here in familiar company, although there's this quaint quirk here in the Philippines where younger people take an elderly person's hand and press the elder's knuckles to their forehead. While I did grow up here, I'm very sensitive to physical touch and uncomfortable with my own culture's greetings, so... I'm personally attempting to bring bowing-from-a-safe-enough-distance-that-you-don't-kno ck-your-heads-togethe r here, from Japan. So far waving and smiling and nodding and-- at a stretch-- curtsies, have gotten a pass. Bows have gotten me raised eyebrows, which I think is an expression of suspicion rather than greeting.

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