Ten years ago, we lived in Ecuador for a month. Leading by example, the good people of Cuenca taught me to take a moment to simply greet everyone. When eyes meet, say “Hola”. The custom reinforced my US Southern Mother’s tutelage on good manners, or as her French father used to say “Les bonnes manières sont importantes”.
As we approach the next round of seasonal holidays, when the news of the day and politics of the moment can make or deepen the loved ones divide, start the time together on solid footing. A genuine “Good Morning” or “So Good to See You” is a positive way to start the day!
What constitutes good manners in one culture is not mirrored in all cultures. For example, leaving some food on one’s plate is appropriate in some countries as it signifies that one is full and satisfied with the food offered. In other countries, it is considered wasteful to leave food on one’s plate after eating a meal.
As a visitor or short-term resident of over 50 countries, we have expanded our travel preparations to include the study of good manners and appropriate etiquette. In Thailand, we learned to bow slightly with palms together at chest level when being introduced to someone. In Italy, we learned to give a quick kiss on each cheek to our friend or family member.
Good manners show respect and general understanding of other cultures. Respecting people and the host country is the foundation for positive communication and relationship building. Have Safe and Happy Holidays!