Cultural misconceptions: how not to offend others while abroad

No Means Yes and Other Cultural Misconceptions
No Means Yes and Other Cultural Misconceptions


While living abroad or exploring different countries, it's typically tricky attempting to figure out what's exactly "culturally acceptable." There's nothing worse than turning down a plate of food at someone's house and suddenly you've insulted their entire family -- ancestors included. Talk about awkward!

The truth is -- different cultures often have very different views of what they consider to be polite, in addition to what they consider to be down right rude. To those foreign to that culture, slip ups are certainly easy to come by.

For instance, in Turkey, you should refuse an offer at least twice before accepting. So when it comes down to that plate of food I mentioned earlier, turning it down would probably be the best way NOT to get the death stare.

In the Netherlands, waving your hand next to your ear suggests you just had a seriously delicious meal, while in America, it means that you're probably a little coo-coo!

But if you think that's interesting -- try this on for size! In America, touching your thumb and forefinger to make an "O" shape usually means "it's all good," right? Well, in Turkey it has a seriously sexual connotation. In Belgium, France and Tunisia, it means you're calling someone a zero -- and in South Europe, it's the equivalent to giving someone the middle finger.

How's that for differentiating customs?

Avoid any awkward, humiliating and potentially offending gestures with the video guide at the top of this page -- because clearly, no doesn't always mean yes, and just because WE believe something to be acceptable, doesn't mean others do too!

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