A Quick Insight: How to formally greet people around the world
- USA: use a really firm handshake and make eye contact while fully introducing (full name). Don’t forget to shake the hand of everyone.
- Canada: use a firm handshake with eye contact
- Mexico: use a long-lasting handshake. This could be followed by a hug for men, women may kiss on both cheeks
- Brazil: use a firm long-lasting handshake while making strong eye contact. For women, kiss them on each cheek.
- Switzerland: use a normal handshake with making eye contact. When shaking hands, say the title of the person in front followed by the family name.
- Turkey: use a light and very long handshake. Holding the hand is a sign of friendship there. On the other side, a firm handshake is really rude.
- Norway: greet everyone present with a classic handshake. For business purposes, say the full name of each person while shaking hands. Avoid asking “How are you?”, Norwegian thinks it is a meaningless question.
- France: a light and fast handshake. If people are close it is common to kiss on both cheeks.
- UK: use a light handshake, don’t forget to widen the space after with the person greeted to avoid speaking too close.
- China: greet the oldest person first and so on until the youngest person is reached. Greet with a light handshake while bowing slightly. Avoid direct eye contact.
- South Korea: The oldest person starts the handshake by greeting with a light handshake. It is polite to support the handshake arm with your opposite arm to show respect.
- Philipines: use a weak grip when shaking hands while looking at the person in the eye. No need to bow.
- Thailand: No need to shake hands, Thai people use the “wai”. The person has to place both hand palms together at the chest level and bow. If someone greets you it is an insult not to greet back. While doing the “wai”, to say “Hello”, a man says: “Sawadee-krap”, while a woman says: “Sawadee-kah”.
- India: Wait for the person to initiate the greeting to reciprocate the same one. For business, Indians shake hands lightly. However, Most Indians greet with a namaste which is the most respectful and polite way of saying “Hello”. To do so, place both hand palms together at the chest level and bow.
The other Asian countries are following or close to the Chinese way of greeting.
- Morroco: Shake hands gently with people from the same gender. If greeting a woman, wait for her to offer her hand before doing a handshake
- Kenya: Shake hands of everyone and say “Jambo” for “How are you?”. This greeting can be responded by “Sijambo” for “I am well”. Then it is really common to ask the person about the family or business. If greeting elders or high-status persons, support the right arm with the left arm to show respect.
- Australia: Australians use handshakes to greet. If you are a woman greeting a man, you have to offer your hand first, Women don’t shake hands between themselves.
- New-Zeland: use a firm handshake to greet. However, they only shake hands for the first time they meet someone, and not afterward.
- Russia: use a firm handshake with direct eye contact. Never greet across a threshold, it is really impolite.
Those greetings can differ a lot depending on where you are. In Thailand people bow and don’t shake hands, meanwhile in America people shake hands with a strong grip and make eye contact. Another example is the Kenyan people who ask news about the family or life while greeting when at the same time it is considered inappropriate in Norway. Greeting people is the first contact you get with someone. It is important to know the national way of greeting in order to give good impressions about you, especially for business purposes.
Moreover, the differences in greetings around the world have an impact on customer services in a way that the salesperson needs to accommodate to the cultural background of the consumers to give the best customer experience. In order to provide good customer service to every customer, the way of greeting people is something that every salesman should know, especially for luxury brands that offer high-end service. However, some customers are looking for a local experience, for example, Chinese shoppers enjoy the French greeting when buying the product from French brands, which differs a lot from the Chinese way of greeting. Knowing the way of greeting people is a skill that every salesman should have to improve their performance.