Hospitality and politeness between cultures and countries

The world is a cosmopolitan place filled with people who have been born into and grown up in the arms of many different cultures and traditions. Therefore it not surprising that the experiences of hospitality and politeness are as varied as the number of countries that make up this world.

In the UK we are as a race more reserved than a number of other nations. Maybe, as others have said, this is because we like our own space and have been culturally raised to believe that there needs to be introduction before hospitality is extended. We also have a tendency not to speak to strangers, for example if we are walking through a crowded street on our way to work. This does not mean that we are less hospitable than others, just that there are certain different steps that we go through before we extend those courtesies. However we are a polite nation, taught from youth to extend politeness with word such as “please” and “thank you” amongst others.

When I lived in inland Spain for a year I found this a little of a cultural shock. Unlike the British, the Spanish will seek out eye contact with a stranger and will always acknowledge you with a greeting, even if they have never met you before. Upon first meeting the Spanish lady also expect a kiss on the cheek greeting. They consider it rude and impolite if one does not respond in kind. For a UK person this can feel uncomfortable at first. However, the other difference is in their politeness of speech. To a UK person their speech is less polite than ours. For example they find it strange that some will ask for service and add the word “please”. This does not mean that as a nation they are less polite, only that their tradition and culture does not place the same importance on these phrases.

In my limited experience of other countries I have found the American people more open and immediate in their expressions of hospitality and politeness than the UK citizen. During my travels in Europe I have found a mixed level of what I culturally would perceive to be hospitable and polite.

In my opinion the majority of people globally are hospitable and polite, irrespective of their traditions and cultures. The main differences occur in the way that these human attributes are expressed. Traditionally and culturally, what is accepted as hospitable and polite in one country may be deemed the opposite in another. The perception that some cultures possess greater levels of these attributes than others is generally created by lack of knowledge and understanding. It is natural that we will feel more comfortable with the culture of hospitality and politeness that we have been brought up in.

One of the wonderful benefits of the Internet and the global communication that it allows, is that it provides us an opportunity to extend to each other an unbiased and open experience of hospitality and politeness, unfettered by the restrictions that our individual traditions and cultures may impose. Here, we are able to appreciate the hospitable and polite nature of the mind of the individual before that being impacted by their culture or tradition.

We are all different, individually, nationally and culturally. If we can encompass and appreciate those differences, we will learn to appreciate the hospitality and politeness extended by various cultures and countries.


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