15 Everyday Things That Could Offend People In Other Countries

2,297 Views Updated: 03 Jul 2017
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15 Everyday Things That Could Offend People In Other Countries

Those of you who have traveled at all must be aware of how Customs differ in various parts of the world. Something which may be considered customary in one country may be offensive in another.

If you are planning to go someplace new during your next vacation, check out these 15 things that could get you into trouble.

#1. Tipping

While tipping may be a common way of expressing gratitude in the West, in countries like Japan and South Korea, it is considered an insult. The workers here take pride in their jobs, for which they are paid their salaries, and do not seek any extra incentive.

(Image Courtesy: Vegas Girls Night Out)

#2. Thumbs Up

Every once in a while we throw a thumbs up to signify our approval or satisfaction, but you should refrain them from doing so in Middle East, Latin America, Russia, Greece or Western Africa. In these countries, the up thumb has the same meaning which the middle finger has in the most.

(Image Courtesy: The Daily Dot)

#3. Whistling

While many may consider whistling open to interpretation as it can have some meanings, but in many nations, it is viewed as rude behavior. In Haiti, it is one of the things that are never to be done near-elders.

(Image Courtesy: Keys To Voice Studies)

#4. Using Your Left Hand For Anything

If you are guessing that this has something to do with the left hand and left-handed people being associated with evil, then you are not wrong. Another, more practical reason for it is that not many cultures in the world tend to use toilet paper and utilize their left hand instead.

(Image Courtesy: Guff)

#5. Going Barechested

Where you stay, the primary reason to head to a beach may be to let your shirt loose and soak in the sun, but not if you are in South Korea. It is highly unlikely to see a shirtless man at a beach here, and if you too do not wish to offend anybody, it is better to keep it on.

(Image Courtesy: GQ.com)

#6. Accepting Gifts Quickly

Most of us tend to accept gifts, invitations and favors without hesitating, even when we are not offering anything in return, but in China, it is customary to refuse a present at least three times before finally accepting.

(Image Courtesy: Elevate Promo)

#7. Asking Particular Questions

‘What do you do’ may be one of the most standard icebreakers but a Dutch could take it personally. In fact, they consider it equal to be asking how much they earn.

(Image Courtesy: Huffington Post)

#8. Putting Hands in Pocket

A few years back, Bill Gates found himself in the middle of a controversy, when Korean people accused him of disrespecting their president when the business tycoon shook her hand with his left hand firmly planted in the pocket.

(Image Courtesy: The Daily Roar)

#9. Laughing Open Mouth

Just like many nations consider noisy, open-mouthed eating to be offensive, in Japan, showing off your pearly whites while laughing is deemed horse-like and rude.

(Image Courtesy: YouTube)

#10. Being Late

While many of us consider being late a fashion trend, but if you don’t wish to offend your German friends, just make sure you are on time as being late is taken as you think that your time is more valuable than theirs. However, if you are planning a get-together with your Argentinian friends and wish to show up on the right time, be an hour late.

(Image Courtesy: Buzz Nigeria)

#11. Refusing Food

We often refuse food so that our guests are not bothered by our visit, but in the Arab culture, refusing anything by the host, especially food, is considered to be extremely rude.

(Image Courtesy: Kidney Buzz)

#12. Altering Meal

Foodie cultures like Spain, Japan, Italy and France take their food quite seriously. Therefore, if you ask for hot sauce, pickle or any other condiment for your meal, you are likely to offend the host.

(Image Courtesy: Chronobiology)

#13. Keeping Your Shoes On

You may think that it is better to keep on your shoes, but Japanese and Carribean people take offense if you do not put them off before entering their house.

(Image Courtesy: Reader's Digest)

#14. Smiling At Strangers

Russians consider a smile to be an intimate gesture which should be genuine. If you smile at a stranger in Russia, they will probably find you insincere.

(Image Courtesy: Huffington Post)

#15. Not Greeting

Before you say anything, a French expects you to say ‘bonjour’ and show a sign of respect whether you are at a shop looking to buy something.

(Image Courtesy: The New York Times)

We would love to hear from you. Kindly use the comment box to share your thoughts with us and do not forget to vote in the poll.

(Featured Image Courtesy: The Telegraph)


We knowingly or unknowingly offend cultures by our actions. I think in this modern time, people are undogmatic. We do not really feel that these gestures demonstrate our respect. Instead, we respect cultures from within. When we are not able to accept certain things, we do not follow them. It has been common now. Though some myths have logical reasons behind them which must be followed, if valid. However, we love to be free so, ritual or cultural barriers are not a limit for us anymore.

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