Consulting Tips for Foreign cultures and religions
Because Burleson Consulting serves clients all
over the globe it is important that we take care not to
inadvertently offend any verbal, cultural of religious customs.
This page offers tips for avoiding verbal misunderstandings and
understanding differences in culture and personal attire.
Note: In addition to these guidelines, make sure to review our
Customs and Personal Attire
Dress and customs are very different in different parts of the world
can test your knowledge of global cultures
at this web page. For example, in Caribbean and Latin American
countries you show respect for a client by avoiding direct eye
contact. The US Navy has an
on dealing with Arabic clients.
This link has excellent advice on cultural differences in
mannerisms and non-verbal communications:
Bowing - shows rank and status in Japan
Slouching - Considered rude in most
Northern European areas
Hands in pocket - disrespectful in
Sitting with legs crossed -
offensive in Ghana, Turkey
Showing soles of feet. - Offensive
in Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Muslim nations
Touching - Many Asians don’t touch
the head (Head houses the soul and a touch puts it in jeopardy).
Eye Contact and touching
Western cultures — Westerners see
direct eye to eye contact as positive.
Arabic cultures make prolonged
eye-contact. — They believe it shows interest and helps them
understand truthfulness of the other person. (A person who
doesn’t reciprocate is seen as untrustworthy)
Avoid eye contact to show respect -
In Japan, Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean
Touching - Islamic and Hindu
cultures typically don’t touch
with the left hand. To do so is a social insult. Left hand is
for toilet functions. It is mannerly in India to break your
bread only with your right hand (sometimes difficult for
Cultural Dining Tips
There are many social differences across the
globe and many customs and terms with which you may not be
familiar. Here are a few dining tip that come to-mind:
- In England, “Spotted Dick” is a dessert,
not a venereal disease
- In Japan, if you are served a small smoked
hunk of meat, it’s not meant to be eaten whole. (Man, they’re
crunchy) It’s a smoked sparrow, and you are supposed to pick
the meat off he breast with your chopsticks.
- In the USA, “Rocky Mountain Oysters” are
not seafood, they are beef testicles. If you have the balls,
also try ordering the “Sheep Fries” or “Rooster Fries”. In the
southern USA, remember the phrase “It takes guts to order
- In the Upstate New York area, if someone
approaches you asking if you want a "speedy", they are not a
speed-pusher. Instead, a "Spiedie"
is a delicious shish kebab.
- In the U.K., if you find a large scab on
your breakfast plate, it's “Black Pudding” A blood sausage, served at breakfast, and
it goes great with the fired toast and fried tomatoes.
- In France, be aware that an “inhabited
cheese” contains living organisms.
Also see our pages on dining abroad,
Our most interesting meals.
Ask for it by name.
|It takes balls
to eat testicles.
is for breakfast
a New York favorite
||Mountain Oysters are a low-fat treat
Words, Phrases and Customs
We also see these important social differences,
word usage and customs.
If you know of any other social customs of
confusing vernacular that I have not listed here, I’d sure like to
hear from you at
firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d also love to hear from non-USA people
about “funny” customs that you see in the USA.
Cultural Dress Code
When representing Burleson Consulting it is not
acceptable to wear any cultural or religious garments that may
offend a client.
For example, when in Scotland you may
be tempted to show-off your family plaid at a formal event,
but this is prohibited when representing Burleson
Despite your pride over your family
Tartan, as a Scot you are aware that there are centuries-old
feuds between clans, and you family heritage should have no
bearing (favorable or otherwise) on your position as a
Burleson consulting respects the religious beliefs of
you and our clients, but our clients come first. When
representing Burleson Consulting it is unacceptable to wear
any garments, icons or jewelry that may have overt (or
covert) religious, racial, cultural or national connotations
that may offend a client.
important to any professional not to advertise your religious
affiliations. For example, when consulting in areas with large
Muslim populations, you may not wear customary garments unless you
are a practicing member of that religion, and then, only when the
attire is consistent with the other tenets of our dress code.
Christian symbols are considered offensive in some countries and
great care must be taken to always respect the beliefs and customs
of your clients.
Many BC clients are Rasta's, and you should
familiarize yourself with the
background. Please note (from the link above):
The philosophy of the Rasta is Freedom of
Spirit, Freedom from Slavery, and Freedom of Africa. Also
note that Jamaica is a highly matriarchal society, with men
subservient to women.
The Rasta religion uses of marijuana as a
Sacrament and as an aid to meditation. Keep this in-mind
if you are invited to a worship service.
They reject the white man's world, as the
new age Babylon of greed and dishonesty.
They reject the word Rastafarianism,
because they see themselves as having transcended isms and
Some Protestant sects find "idolatry" extremely
offensive, and Catholic jewelry with symbols such as the Virgin Mary
and Jesus hanging on a cross should not be worn.
Female consultants working in Islamic countries
must be careful to understand the different expectations of women.
In the book "Islam
Rethought", the author notes:
The sexual and gender inequality, with
the inferior statuses, rights, and role of Muslim women in
contemporary Muslim societies and cultures, derive directly from
the doctrines of inequality of man and woman in the Qur'an,
Sunnah, and Islamic Tradition and history.
Also note that some Islamic cultures don’t approve
of any touching between men and women (even hand shakes).
However, same-sex touching (including hand holding, hugs) between
same-sex people is appropriate, but only for close friends.
I liked your article on Consulting cultural
religious guidelines, and I
have some suggestions.
In Australia it's not a good idea for non-locals to try Aussie slang
- "G'day" or "crikey" etc (especially in a formal setting such as a
environment). The exception is of course if one is at a pub and is
to 'practice' and possibly be ridiculed in front of his Australian
You mention "funny" US customs on your website. In Australia, I
we're just not as patriotic as people are in the US. Hats off and
the heart while singing the national anthem, while a very respectful
gesture for sure, but just isn't practiced here. Americans shouldn't
that Aussies don't respect their country any less though because
grumble about standing for the national anthem when asked before a
match starts :-)
Gavin R. - Australia
"In France, be aware that an “inhabited cheese”
contains living organisms."
Be aware that “inhabited cheese” is only an expression meaning
"rotted" cheese, sometimes including living organisms. It is
not a French meal you can order in a restaurant. Please
remember : civilization exists outside USA.