I am a stickler for manners, after all, as my gran used to always tell me – ‘they cost nothing’ and we all know that we don’t get much for free these days, so why do so many people find it so hard to be considerate and polite?
It’s very easy to say please and thank you for acts of kindness and even when we’re on holidays abroad, it’s simple to offer and also understand a gesture of gratitude. It seems that I’m not the only one who feels like this though as tourism chiefs in Paris have put together a six-page booklet entitled ‘Do You Speak Touriste?’ in a bid to shake off its image of being one of the world’s rudest cities.
Despite being known for its romance it seems that waiters, sales staff and taxi drivers in Paris have all come under criticism for their abrupt manner, unhelpfulness and downright rudeness. Around 30,000 booklets have been distributed within the service industry in an effort to keep the 29 million visitors it receives every year happy.
The guide includes greetings in eight different languages and advice on culture and the spending habits of different nations. Apparently us Brits like to be called by our first names (we’ve been called worse) and the Americans like firm reassurances on prices. A simple smile and greeting in their own language keeps the Chinese visitors happy, whilst Italians appreciate a more formal hand shake. Friendly Parisians need to beware though as a casual hand shake is deemed offensive to South Koreans.
Whilst striving to learn the correct way to meet and greet foreign visitors, it’s worth bearing in mind that what is deemed polite in some countries is seen as offensive in others. For example making the ‘okay’ symbol with fore finger and thumb is considered rude in Turkey and Greece, and to Middle Eastern visitors it means you are giving them the ‘evil eye’, whilst a thumbs up gesture to a South American, Iranian, Sardinian or West African doesn’t mean ‘great’ it is actually telling them to ‘do one’. In Japan it’s classed as vulgar to sneeze at the table (let’s hope no-one has hay-fever), yet perfectly acceptable to slurp your food – good job I don’t live in Japan.
Helpful Parisians will also do well to remember that it is very rude to ‘point’ in many cultures even when giving directions and an open palm would be much less offensive. And finally let’s hope they never have to use their fore finger to beckon someone from the Philippines towards them, as this is deemed only suitable to summon a dog, and punishable by arrest in their homeland, whilst in Singapore the gesture indicates imminent death, so best to avoid that one then! (Unless you’re trying to get the attention of your ex perhaps!)
So it might be worth doing a tiny bit of research into your chosen destination before you go, just to make sure you don’t upset anyone along the way. And if you’re having trouble choosing your next destination then as usual, here at Holiday Hypermarket we’ll be only too happy to help. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for the latest deals and inspiration or drop us a line via Live Chat.