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Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands

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Shake hands

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands

People greet each other in many different ways. We asked four people to describe the ways they greet people in their country. Here’s what they wrote: 


I greet people differently depending on the situation. In formal situations, I usually shake hands. And when I meet someone for the first time, I almost always shake hands. It’s important to shake hands firmly. When I greet casual friends, I just say, “Hi!” For close friends, I usually give them a hug. It’s a little different for men though. Where I live, it’s not very common for male friends to hug each other. They do other things like the “fist bump.” That’s when two people touch fists. ––Sandra (U.S.)

Shake hands

Formal Situations

In formal situations or when I meet someone for the first time, I shake hands. It’s important to shake hands firmly and look the other person in the eye when you greet them. I always hug my friends. Hugging is perfectly acceptable. It’s OK for men to hug other men, for men to hug women, and for women to hug other women. ––Kamal (Turkey)


In a formal situation or when I meet someone for the first time, always shake hands. When I greet a male friend, I give him a hug and a pat on the back. When I greet a close female friend, I give her a small hug and a kiss on the cheek. My female friends greet each other in this way too. ––Octavio (Venezuela)

Meeting a Friend

When I meet a friend, I greet them with a wai–I put my hands together in front of my chest and bow slightly–and say, “Sawadee,” which means “Hello.” In formal situations, some people still use this traditional Thai greeting, but these days more and more businesspeople shake hands. Times are changing. ––Noi (Thailand)

Read each sentence and check (√) True or False. 

  1. Greetings are the same everywhere in the world. 
  2. Female friends in the United States hug each other, but men don’t usually hug other men.
  3. In Turkey, both male and female friends hug each other. 
  4. In Turkey, you should look at the other person when you shake hands.
  5. Male friends greet each other with a hug and a kiss in Venezuela.
  6. In Venezuela, both female and male friends greet each other with a hug.
  7. In formal situations in Thailand, some people bow and some people shake hands.

Answer Keys:

  1. False
  2. True
  3. True
  4. True
  5. False
  6. True
  7. True

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