How late is too late in America? | Is it right to address a Brit friend’s dad as uncle? | How cool is ‘high five’ to Australians? | Is a week is too early for a peck? | What should be the physical space between you and the American? | Why the Victory sign angers the Australians? | Why a Brit should never be asked about his salary? | What will happen if you call waiter in America Boss, hero or ‘chote’? | How to introduce one person to another? All these questions get answered here
- In America, you have to be on time...even for parties: There is UK punctuality and Australian punctuality but the degree of American punctuality is the highest. Americans are so damn punctual that they don’t even want you to come late for parties. Just in case you get late, you have to inform the hosts so that you are not welcomed with a frown. At max, someone will wait for you for 15 minutes, post that it’s late. Says Avneet: “In America, even when you are going out with friends at night, you have to be punctual. Australians too take punctuality seriously. Punctuality in the UK differs from situation to situation. One thing to keep in mind is never to arrive too early. Either be on time or at a max, arrive 15 minutes late after the stated time.
DID YOU KNOW? 6 hours late is on time in Ghana
- High five isn’t the best way to meet and greet the Brits: We have heard a thousand Brits complain about how some people find it really cool to pass a high five every now and then, and why it is the worst thing to do. Also, for Brits, a peck is acceptable only if you are meeting friends or acquaintances after a very long time. NO! A WEEK ISN’T THAT LONG TO KISS. Says Avneet: “The English culture demands a sense of formality while addressing someone, which is why the same is done with terms like ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am.’ Politeness, reserve and restraint are admired in someone they are meeting for the first time. Most Americans believe in equality and thus end up deferring usage of overtly formal words like sir, and ma’am and call people by their first names unless it is someone of a senior rank. This applies especially to the Northern and Central sections of the continent. In Australia, the greeting system is informal and people commonly greet each other with an informal ‘Hi’ , Hello or ‘Good day.’ In all three of these countries however, it is considered appropriate to address people in a respectful way with a ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms.’ Remember that when you visit a friend’s parents, ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’ are not terms that are recognised in their culture. This happens only in India! It is always appropriate to address a lady as Ms., irrespective of her being married or not. If she’d like to be addressed as Mrs. wait for her to tell you.
- In Australia, don’t visit someone without a gift: You parents already do that in India, and so should you when you move abroad. ‘Khaali Haath’ is just not cool in Australia. You have to carry something which is preferably of your country. So, the next time you visit an Australian family, gift them a scale size replica of Taj Mahal, and not of Sydney Harbour. Says Avneet: “It is considered etiquette to bring a small gift when invited to someone’s home preferably something that is native to your country, but even a bottle of wine or flowers is appreciated. Americans usually don’t have any qualms about gifting. They are particular about RSVP’s to plan social engagements accordingly. In the UK thank you notes are considered very polite.
- Never ever kiss or hug a Brit in public: Even if you know them. If you are meeting them at a public place or at a formal gathering, a firm handshake is what you should aim at. Just make sure that you don’t crush the lady’s hand like you want to take squeeze some juice out of it? Says Avneet: “The British are not overly affectionate, they mark their personal space evidently and one should be wary of hugging, kissing and general show of affection in public. Americans are very particular about personal space. Keep your distance while having conversation as they may automatically step back if they feel you are invading their personal space. Australians are friendly, but extremely particular about personal space too. 1-3 arms distance is the key!
- You don’t show a victory sign to Australians: How many times do you flash a ‘V’ sign during a day? 5 times atleast? Don’t do it when you are in Australia? They consider it vulgar. Why just America? You should just not flash your local gestures when you are not in your country because you never know what it stands for in a foreign land. Says Avneet: “’V’ sign is assumed to be a very vulgar gesture. It does not communicate peace in their culture. The thumbs up sign, which is used very casually across the world, is also considered obscene in Australia. British desire privacy and it is thus considered rude to pry into their personal lives or ask questions about how much they earn. Certain terms or words to describe different races are a huge taboo in all three countries and completely unacceptable as racism poses as a serious problem.
- Never address the waiter as ‘boss’: No it isn’t cool and if you call someone with such names, most likely, you will be loathed for it. Also, you can’t use both your hands to eat. It isn’t done! Says Avneet: Americans and Australians usually practice eating with a style known as Switch and Switch. It involves you having to cut your food one morsel at a time. The concept behind this style of eating is that a person should be involved with their food as well the people they are dining with. Americans raise their index finger silently to make contact with the server. In Australia and England diners don’t call out to the servers in restaurants but summon them with a quiet hand motion instead. Usage of terms like boss, hero, 'chote' is inappropriate.
- Work etiquette: Consider yourself lucky that your parents don’t ask you to fend for yourself when you are in need to money, abroad it isn’t the case. Most of the students, once they reach a certain age, work to take care of their need, and that’s why you need to know a lot about work etiquettes. Says Avneet: “Student life in America and the UK is extremely expensive – even more so than in Australia. But in all three countries, students tend to get part time jobs, which is why understanding the basics of work etiquette is imperative. Anything that isn’t a corporate job in America or Australia will have a semi formal setting and pay employees a minimum wage or on an hourly basis. So one tends not to get too tied down or attached to the work place. In the UK however, even student jobs are taken seriously and one must maintain good, formal work etiquette. In a business situation, men and women are equals. The men need not hold the door for a lady; hold her chair to get seated etc. Save the chivalry for your date. However, don’t treat all the ladies like your best buds either. Respect one’s personal space at workplace; maintain 1-3 arms distance. While making presentations, present your business case with facts and figures. Emotions and feelings are not important in any business climate.
A few more things you need to consider
- How to introduce one person to another? Often, there is confusion as to how to introduce people in a social and work setup. In a social setup, introduce the younger person to the older person. At workplace, introduce a person of lower rank/status to a person of higher rank/status. Do not introduce based on gender. Ladies are not always first. In a social setup, when two people are of similar age and rank, introduce the one you know better to the other person first.
- Body Language: Australians are more open or ‘chilled out’ about back slapping, or hugs, or even just shaking hands; that is true for Americans too as long as it is outside of a professional setting. Body language is important for personal presentation on the whole and is not particularly subjective to countries. Respectful, yet friendly body language will go a long way in any circumstance. Make sure your handshakes are firm. Limp and lousy handshakes project under confidence.
- Dressing: In the modern world, this shouldn’t surprise you as India has taken western fashion to the next level. Formal and informal wear will be the same except more pants and less salwars on women. Jewellery should be small and minimal. Avoid chunky gold jewellery that cause distraction.
- Telephone etiquette: The simple rule you have to follow with a person in the UK is to be polite and concise while addressing them over the phone. In Australia and America, being slightly informal over the phone is fairly acceptable. The terms ‘English’ and ‘British’ do not mean the same thing. ‘British’ denotes someone who is from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. ‘English’ refers to people from England. People from Scotland are ‘Scots’, from Wales ‘Welsh’ and from Northern Ireland ‘Irish’. Be sure not to call someone Welsh, Scots, or Northern Irish ‘English’.
- Inside and outside voices: It’s not a great idea to be too loud around people or in a conversation. But again, your behaviour has a lot to do with your environment. The British, as mentioned before, are extremely polite – remember to maintain that conversationally. Being too outspoken or too loud will not go down well with them.
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