It’s one thing to greet a close friend or family member with a kiss on the cheek . Let’s face it, Americans like to hug. We like to touch.
But when you’re traveling, our greeting etiquette overseas doesn’t often translate. In many parts of the world, it’s about keeping your distance.
In Japan, that means keeping about three feet apart from the person you’re greeting and also involves a bow. And maintaining eye contact is not advised, because you might come across as too bold or aggressive. And there’s no touching.
The same rules about hugging apply in Spain, Portugal and Italy. But two kisses on the check — first the right and then the left — is acceptable.
If you’re a man traveling in the Middle East, a soft hand shake will do.
In Latin American countries, a combination of one cheek kiss and a hug is the most common form of greeting.
And in Northern Europe (Sweden, Denmark and Finland) as well as the U.K. and Australia greeting etiquette is very similar to what we have in the U.S.: shaking hands, looking directly in the eyes and still allowing enough personal space.
And if after all this you’re still confused, a friendly smile with no touching at all can often work wonders.
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