My travels take me to many places around the world, and these places and people have many customs and beliefs. These customs and beliefs will range from behaviours, dress, food, and politics to religion. The latter two I keep away from.
My problem is that as I visit and give more trainings in these far places (click to see countries I visit), I am introduced to even more culture, and as I forget what country or region I am in, I can make big mistakes.
Simple things like hand movements, simple words, touching, looking, how I eat food, drink, or blow my nose, can cause offense. And, I do not intentionally.
OK, there are times when I intentionally shock my participants with what I do. It is done for a purpose, but that is another matter.
Simple things like blowing my nose. In Turkey it should never be done whilst eating at the dining table. The trouble is I did not know this until recent times. How often have I eaten a spicy meal, hot chillies, that make my nose run, it is not that I have a cold, but my nose really runs, and how often have I blown my nose? I cannot have it dripping can I?
Sorry people who have taken me for a meal and I did wrong.
In China or Malaysia, South East Asia, they eat noodles, which can be called spaghetti in Italy and the rest of the world, as far as I am concerned they are one of the same. In China, they scoop the noodles into the mouth, and the excess is bitten off and is allowed to fall to back onto the plate. In Italy it should all be placed into the mouth whole, none should be dropped back onto the plate.
Sorry Donatella, when I ate like a Chinaman at your friend’s restaurant in upmarket Rome.
In some countries it is rude to show the souls of the feet, that is one reason when people sit on the floor they place their feet beneath them like in a yoga position. My knees do not bend that way or that much. I have tried, but it seems I am not built to do that.
Sorry, I suppose I should have some replacement knees.
The classic sign to indicate to stop is to place the flat of the hand towards the person you wish to stop. Most police forces use it to stop traffic. But then it can be a rude sign to some cultures. Another sign to say stop is to run an outstretched hand across the neck, to cut or finish. In Italy this is a bad sign used by the Mafia.
Sorry people in Italy.
I Muslim counties, cultures or beliefs, it is sometimes not done for a man to touch or shake a womans hand, one of the most natural ways of meeting someone, thus we have the NLP Handshake Interrupt exercise. (click to see).
In some cultures, it is not the done thing to show any form of affection or gratitude, for example the kissing of cheeks we see in Mainland Europe or the Middle East. It is certainly not done by the British, but I have gotten used to it.
Sorry those of you in the Chinese community, especially the family in Malaysia and Bing, my brother-in-law.
Perhaps the answer could be that we all wear a big sign around our necks, which states and says what is acceptable to us and what is not. It would then be easy for me not to cause offense to others by my words and action, and for others not to upset me, like jumping the queue. (click to read).
But then, people who have been on my courses can cope with culture differences, they may not like the differences, but now they can accept them and smile.
To the rest of you. Sorry in advance.
Can you let me know of differences in culture and beliefs you know of, by posting a comment below so I can be prepared?