Faux pas is a social behavior or conduct that breaches a given cultural etiquette. Owing to the diversity of cultures, faux pas vary from one culture to another because of the differences in norms and traditions. What a culture considers as offensive conduct may be a good conduct in another culture.
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The existence of such faux pas makes it difficult for people from different cultural backgrounds to communicate because people fear breaching etiquette. A violation of cultural etiquette invites dire punishment or attracts the wrath of a given cultural members. Thus, this essay examines international faux pas in other cultures and Islamic culture.
Common faux pas that people consider offensive exists in various cultures across the world. For example, the beckoning hand gesture of ‘come here’ is very offensive among Japanese because it is an obscene gesture that signifies romantic solicitation (Martin & Chaney, 2009). The hand gesture is offensive among Japanese but not offensive in other cultures across the world, including Islamic culture. Hence, one needs to be careful in using hand gestures when communicating with Japanese because of the faux pas.
In this view, I consider that Japanese culture is the most difficult culture to live in because of the faux pas associated with the hand gestures. Moreover, the use of ‘thumbs up” gesture, which conventionally means okay, is a vulgar and an offensive sign among Brazilians (Martin, 2012). Across the world, Brazilian culture is the culture that views the ‘thumbs up’ gesture as an offensive sign, while other cultures regard it as an okay sign.
The Chinese have a faux pas that they associate with the use of chopsticks. According to Martin (2012), sticking chopsticks to stand in a plate of rice signifies death. Thus, the Chinese find it offensive when one serves them with a plate of rice that has chopsticks stuck on it.
Such an act is only offensive among Chinese, but acceptable among other cultures that do not use chopsticks. Mixing of drinks is another faux pas that relate with eating manners. French culture considers it a taboo to take red wine followed by the white wine (Martin & Chaney, 2009). In contrast, American culture finds it acceptable for someone to mix drinks.
In my culture, the Islamic culture, Muslims consider it offensive for people to display affection in public. Acts of displaying affection such as hugging and hand holding by married couple in the public are offensive because Muslims perceive affection as a private issue that should not happen in the public.
If couples hold hands, the public can beat them in my cultural setting. Additionally, when offering gifts to Muslims, one should wrap them using green color, a sacred color of Islamic religion (Martin, 2012). Wrapping of gifts using as red color is offensive as it symbolizes blood. Comparatively, other cultures in Asia perceive red color as a sign of happiness and wealth. Thus, the display of affection in public and the use of red color are some of the faux pas that a non-Muslim, a person outside my culture, can do.
Martin, H. (2012). Cultural faux pas can doom international business deals. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/business/la-xpm-2012-apr-15-la-fi-mo-cultural-faux-pas-20120413-story.html
Martin, J., & Chaney, L. (2009). Communication skills needed for successful interactions with America’s largest trading partners. Web.