Be Polite! Paragon’s Guide to Etiquette Overseas in 7 Easy Steps

Summer is here! That means many of you will be packing your bags and heading overseas to explore new places or relax on warm sandy beaches with a cold drink and a good book (or your cellphone). While you’re traveling, you’ll probably enjoy some good food, see some fascinating places, and meet some interesting people. At Paragon, we understand the importance of language, tone and meaning, and know the importance of always being kind, courteous and culturally aware. Practicing proper etiquette wherever you go is the key to a successful trip.

Remember, whenever you travel you are a roving ambassador for your country. People may have preconceived notions about your homeland, but if you are respectful, polite, and kind, it’s pretty difficult for anyone to judge you. Before you travel, do some homework; learn what makes the country you are visiting so attractive and different.  Learn about its history, customs, taboos.  

Here are a few easy ways to mind your manners when you travel:

1)    Don’t break the rules of custom or law - learn something new! If everyone is eating with their hands, try it out. You might enjoy it! Do what they do and you’ll seem a lot less like an outsider and a lot more like an insider. 

2)    Keep an open mind - don’t let the stereotypes created by ethnocentrism prevent you from being able to enjoy yourself and the people around you.

3)    Mind your manners - this applies always, but especially overseas!  Learn how to approach strangers. Do you shake hands? Do you look them in the eye? Do you bow? How do you hand over a business card? Do you finish all the food on your plate? 

4)    Ask questions - get to know your surroundings. Engage people in conversation and try to learn something new and get an insider’s point of view into how their world works. 

5)    Don’t be loud or draw attention to yourself. It’s important to be aware and self-aware especially if you’re in a country whose custom is to be reserved at all times.

6)    Dress the part - do some research on the country before you leave. If local custom demands modest attire with full coverage, be prepared.. Bring appropriate clothing that shows respect for your host country and does not draw attention to you. 

7)    Lastly, and most importantly, try to learn some of the polite words and phrases of your host country, ones “Hello,” “please,” “thank you,” “how are you?,” “good bye,” and of course, “where’s the bathroom?” or, “which way is the beach?”  And remember, Paragon can help you with anything related to communication, from those polite phrases in every imaginable language to translation of scientific papers or movie scripts!

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