Politeness in Afghanistan
Politeness takes specific forms in Afghanistan. To neglect these forms may cause offense.
Below we will summarize the key points. A more complete, printable copy is available through our FREE dowloadable Planning Guide. The Planning Guide is a condensed form of what is in the Enjoy Afghanista book published by Interlit.
There are specific areas you must demonstrate politeness:
GreetingsIt is imperative to greet everyone when you come into a room, based on the order of "social status." When in doubt, greet the men first.
Afghan men generally hug, and hold hands as a sign of friendship. Try not to flinch of an Afghan man grabs your hand (if you are man) - it means he is trying to be a friend.
Sometimes people arebusy, so a simple placing of your hand over your heart and nod of your head is a sufficient greeting.
Foreign women should generally wait for a man to extend his hand first, and if he does, shake it somewhat limply with mostly just your first 4 fingers. It's not as firm of a handshake as we expect in the West, and definitely shorter. To do it longer will imply something you may not intend to communicated!Women - make sure to greet the grown-women by kissing three times, but just shaking young girls and boys hands is sufficient.
Finally, it is important to ask several times about their health, their family, how they are, etc. If you are man, do NOT ask about his wife, daughters, etc. It implies you are interested in an inappropriate way.
Visiting and Hospitality
If an Afghan really wants you to come over for tea or dinner, they will ask three times. Many foreigners make the mistake of accepting the first invitation.
For example, Mid-Westerners will say, "How are you?" But most of the time this is a greeting and is not intended as anticipating a full 10 minute reply.
In Afghanistan, it's the same: "Stay for tea" is a polite way of ending a conversation, but is not really meant to be accepted.
What is polite by your passport country may not be considered polite in Afghan culture.
There's much more - download our FREE Planning Guide here for more info.
A condensed version of Afghan culture tips is found here.
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