In Madagascar, children cannot say their father’s name or refer to any of his body parts. In Taiwan, it is inconceivable to write messages in red ink.
All countries seem to have a baffling number of foreign practices, and Russia has an especially extensive list of taboos that a business traveller would be wise to avoid.
According to Richard Lewis’ book, “When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures,” it’s important to remember these seven things the next time you visit Russia:
1. Don’t wear your coat indoors.
It is considered bad etiquette to wear your overcoat inside. Even if the heat is broken, buck up and hang your coat immediately.
2. Don’t keep your hands in your pockets.
It is bad form to walk around or stand with your hands in your pockets. If you’re doing business in Russia, keep your hands visible to avoid looking sloppy.
3. Do not sit with your legs apart.
In addition, do not sit with your ankle resting on your knee, and never show the soles of your shoes or let them touch your seat, since shoes are considered dirty.
4. Do not whistle in the street.
Whistling in the street — and indoors — is frowned upon. Play it safe, and avoid whistling all together.
5. Do not eat lunch on park lawns.
No matter how beautiful the weather, forget picnicking.
6. Do not ask people where the toilet is.
It is poor form to ask people where the bathroom is, particularly those of the opposite sex.
7. Do not shake a hand through a doorway.
Russians are known to be very superstitious. It is considered bad luck to shake hands across any threshold, according to The Moscow Times, so save your greeting until you’re fully indoors.
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