Our office is a multicultural hot pot with people from Spain, France, Holland, America and Italy among others…. And what do we do? We work with languages of course.
When living with people from so many different backgrounds you have to be able to adapt to the different ways of living. Normally, people who move abroad for work or to live are more open minded. However, one thing that is harder to lose are the customs that we grew up with.
Most of the time when meeting someone it is not as easy as a simple ‘hello’. The greeting you use depends on the context in which you find yourself.
The Spanish usually greet each other with two kisses, one on each cheek, even when meeting someone for the first time. Men would normally shake hands, as you would also do when in an interview. Although our Spanish colleague Blanca did get two kisses in an interview once! When meeting someone you know well you can give them just one kiss or a hug, this goes for both men and women.
· The USA:
Matt, from the US tells us point blank, no kisses. In America they are fans of personal space so be careful not over step the mark.
When meeting someone for the first time you would normally shake hands, be it two women, men or a man and a woman... It goes without saying that in an interview you would definitely shake hands. Although you could always wait for the interviewer to make the first move.
Sometimes you would hug, but this is usually just between women who have known each other for a while.
Annabelle is French but has lived in Belgium for a while, so she has told us a bit about the differences between the two countries.
In France, when meeting someone for the first time you would normally shake hands, this goes for women and men. In Belgium, you would kiss once on the cheek when meeting someone. It would be strange in France for two men to kiss on the cheek if they don’t know each other; this is more common when they know each other.
In an interview in France, you would simply just say hello, no hand shake or kisses.
Mariangela represents Italy in our office. She says that the greetings in Italy are not that different from other countries, although there is one thing to point out: In Italy the kisses are the opposite way round to in Spain, that is to say in Spain you first kiss the right and then the left cheek. In Italy it is the other way round!
When meeting someone for the first time two kisses on the cheek is the norm for women. Greetings between men and women would involve a hand shake and two kisses, but men however never kiss, except if they are relatives, good friends or if it is a special occasion like a birthday.
In job interviews you would shake hands.
Yusuke, our Japanese colleague, has given us some advice on how to greet people in his country. Here, like in the US, they like personal space and even class distinctions.
When meeting someone for the first time in Japan, the norm and correct way to greet someone is to smile and say good day, whether between women or men. They do not kiss, hug or shake hands. If you know the person a simple "Oh!" will suffice, no we don’t get it either!
As you would expect job interviews are not that easy either. The norm is for the person of a lower class to offer their business card to the person of a higher class, for example the seller would offer their card to the buyer.
Have you ever had an awkward moment meeting someone? Tell us your story!