1. In which country should you avoid wearing white clothing to a celebration and using white paper to wrap gifts?
In China, white is traditionally the color worn for mourning. If you wrap a gift in white, the receiver of the gift will be reminded of death.
2. In which countries is tipping seen as offensive?
- Italy and Croatia
- Mexico and Honduras
- Qatar and Saudi Arabia
- Japan and South Korea
While in some of these countries it is not customary to tip, in Japan and South Korea you might actually offend your server if you leave a tip; because in those cultures work being performed is connected to self-worth. It seems counterintuitive to people from the United States, but by providing extra compensation for the work that a person derives honor from, this act devalues the work that he or she is doing and in turn cheapens that person’s self-worth.
3. In which region is it derogatory to call someone over to you by curling your index finger toward you?
- Central America
- Middle East
In many Asian countries this gesture, often used to call someone over to you in the United States, is seen as highly disrespectful. In Thailand it is only used for dogs.
4. In many Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist countries why should men in particular be careful when crossing their legs?
- They might be taking up too much space.
- Showing the sole of the foot is seen as disrespectful.
- Touching oneself below the knee is frowned upon.
- Men’s feet should both remain on the ground to show strength.
In these cultures, the sole of the foot is seen as dirty because the bottom of the foot is in contact with the ground regularly. When crossing one’s legs, one should be careful about the direction of the soles of one's feet, because showing this portion of the foot to another person is seen as disrespectful.
5. In which country does opening a gift in front of the person who gave it to you appear greedy?
Around the world, there are a number of expectations around gift giving. In the United States, it is often expected that you would open a gift in front of the person who gave it to you, but in India and a few other countries, this behavior can be seen as greedy.
6. Where might you be judged for asking for a condiment or other seasoning if there is none on the table?
- Czech Republic
In Italy, as well as a number of other countries, it can be seen as an insult to the chef to request condiments or seasoning if it hasn’t already been provided.
7. In what country would it be in poor taste to refuse to eat a sheep’s eye?
- Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia, sheep eyes are considered a delicacy and often can be offered to a guest in a position of honor.
8. What is the meaning of the thumbs up gesture in West African nations?
- Good job
- Equivalent to the middle finger in the United States
- I need a ride
- Put a curse upon your family
In a number of locations across the globe, including West African nations, this gesture is as vulgar and offensive as “flipping the bird” in the United States.
9. Why is it disrespectful to greet people using your left hand in many African and Asian countries?
- They use their left hands only for giving directions.
- They use their left hands only for devotional actions.
- They believe the left hand is inherently weaker than the right.
- They believe the left hand should only be used for unclean things.
Many people around the world do not use toilet paper and the left hand is reserved for cleaning up after using the bathroom. Therefore, if you’re offering someone your left hand in greeting, they may assume you’re offering them a very unclean hand.
10. In which country would your hosts assume that they have failed to provide you with enough food if you clean your plate when eating?
In Russia and a handful of Asian nations, the act of finishing all of your food does not show an appreciation for the meal like it does in the United States. In these locations, your host would assume that you are still hungry and that he or she didn’t give you enough to eat.