|Canada (Western and
A firm handshake plus direct eye
contact is the standard form of greeting in Canada. Men
should shake hands with women if they offer their hand,
but many women will just say 'hello,' perhaps with a nod
of the head, and not shake hands.
Distances are farther apart than in
Latin America or the Far East. When conversing, people
will stand about a half meter apart.
There is little or no casual touching.
The only exceptions are that good male friends may
occasionally pat the other's back, close relatives may
put their arms around another's shoulder, and good
female friends may occasionally hug when greeting each
other after long intervals.
Good eye contact is important, whether
it is during business or social conversation.
In social situations, men will usually
rise when women enter a room.
Canadians in these provinces are
described as 'friendly,' 'somewhat reserved,' and
"on the conservative side.' Therefore, excessive
gesturing is not common.
Men will sit with legs crossed, and
all three forms are common and accepted: crossed at the
ankles, crossed at the knees, and having one ankle
crossed on the other knee.
Beckoning is done by raising the hand,
fingers pointing up and palm inward, and motioning
the fingers toward one's face or body. This contrasts
with the beckoning signal in many other parts of the
world where the arm is extended, palm down, and the
fingers are moved in a scratching motion.
To beckon a waiter, just raise the
hand at or above head level. To signal that you want the
check, make a motion with the hands as if you are signing
a piece of paper.
Canadians may eat with either the
continental style (fork constantly in the left hand) or
the American style (where the fork moves back and forth
between the hands).
Most of the popular gestures listed in the US section will be known, used and fully understood in
Canada. The one exception might be the 'hook 'em horns'
gesture known in the United States (especially in Texas),
and in Italy, Africa, and Brazil.
Since the French culture is so strong in this province, certain actions associated with Europe may be noted here. A firm handshake is still the common and preferred method of greeting, but it may be done more often (e.g., at both arrivals and departures, and in all social situations). Also, close male friends may embrace lightly when meeting, and women may do the same, while adding a light kissing motion to the cheek.
French-speaking Canadians may seem more reserved than their American neighbors to the south, with more emphasis on all aspects of etiquette.
It is considered bad manners to eat while on the street.
To beckon a waiter, nod the head backward slightly, or raise your hand discreetly.
When dining, the continental style of eating will probably prevail, although some Canadians will shift the fork back and forth American-style.
A warm, somewhat soft handshake is the customary greeting
among both men and women. Men should let the woman make
the first move toward handshaking. After the second or
third meeting, Mexican men may begin with or add the
abrazo, the embrace along with a few pats on the back.
Women friends will embrace lightly and pretend to kiss a
In some areas of Mexico, you may encounter an unusual
addition to the handshake where, after gripping the palm,
the two people slide their hands upward to grasp each
Many Mexicans are 'touch oriented.' This means they may
linger over a handshake, they may touch the forearm or
elbow, or they may even casually finger the lapel of the
other person's suit. All these touches merely signify a
willingness to be friendly nothing more.
If a man stands with his hands on his hips, it suggests
Deference is shown to the elderly, so give way to them in
public and don't object if they are waited on first.
Never visit churches or religious sites while wearing
shorts, tank tops, or cut-off shirts or shorts.
The national drink in Mexico is tequila. To drink it
properly, here is the procedure: place a pinch of salt in the depression of
your left hand between thumb and forefinger; then lick
the salt and quickly take a drink of tequila; follow this
by sucking on a lime wedge.
Patience is important; avoid showing anger if and when
you encounter delays or interruptions.
A firm handshake, accompanied by
direct eye contact, is the standard greeting in the
United States. Occasionally, among very good friends who
have not seen each other for long intervals, women may
briefly hug other women, and men may quickly kiss the
cheek of a woman. Males rarely hug one another, however.
Occasionally, men may shake hands with the left hand
either covering the handshake or lightly gripping the
Direct eye contact in both social and
business situations is very important. Not doing so
implies boredom or disinterest.
Americans generally respect queues and
will form lines in an orderly fashion. To shove one's way
into such a line will probably generate both anger and
There are two well-known insulting
gestures in the United States. Both are recognized in all
parts of America. They are:
*The middle finger thrust
*The forearm jerk.
Waving 'hello' or 'goodbye' is done
by extending the arm, palm facing down and waving the
hand up a down at the wrist joint. Another variation is
to raise the arm, palm outward, and move the whole arm
and hand back and forth like an upside down pendulum.
This may be important to know because in many countries
this is a signal for 'no'.
Many Americans become uncomfortable
with periods of silence. Therefore in business or social
situations, if a gap occurs they will quickly try to fill
in with conversation.
Winking in America can signal diverse
messages: flirtation, friendliness, amusement, or to
signal 'I am just kidding.'
When driving, automobiles are equipped
with flashing lights as turning signals. If these are not
operating, or if cyclists wish to signal for a turn, the
proper procedure is as follows: extending the left arm
straight out of the driver's window means 'I plan to turn
to the left,' but if the arm is bent upward it
signals 'I plan to turn to the right.'
Beckoning can be done by either
raising the index finger and repeatedly curling it in and
out, or by raising the hand (palm facing inward) and
waggling the fingers back toward the body. Either is
To call a waiter, just raise one hand
to head level or above. To signal that you want the
check, make a writing motion with two hands (one hand
representing the paper, the other making a writing
When dining, many Americans are taught
to keep the left hand in their lap and eat with the right
hand. It is permissible to sit at a table with both
wrists resting lightly on the table. When engaged in
deep, close conversation, two people might even lean
forward, with elbows on the table, but strict
practitioners of etiquette in America frown on this.
It is considered impolite to use
toothpicks in front of other people.
It has become an important courtesy in
the United States to ask permission of your host or
hostess before smoking.