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29 August, 2011

Greeting Etiquette and Faux Pas in Latin American Countries

There are so many continents and countries and each country has its own customs, rituals and etiquettes. What is right in one country may not be right in other country or continent; this is the reason it is very much essential to know the etiquette of the place you wish to visit. Here is a small list of etiquette to be practiced when greeting and the faux pas in greeting in countries of Latin America.


  1. You greet others with a kiss in their cheeks with or without a hug; this holds true for both the sexes.
  2. Say “Gracias” if you want to thank someone and respond with “De Nada” if someone thanks you.
  3. Greet people you meet and remember to say a goodbye when you leave.

  1. Avoid making the mistake of greeting Brazilians in Spanish as it is considered rude instead greet them in Portuguese.
  2. You kiss on other person’s cheek to greet them; in general, men greet each other with a handshake followed by a hug if close friends.
  3. If you have the habit of giving gifts when meeting someone, make sure you change the habit when you visit Brazil. There is every chance that it is misinterpreted as romantic offer especially if it is given to opposite sex; however, this doesn’t apply if the gift is given on a birthday.

  1. You can cheek-kiss to greet:
    1. Men and women
    2. Women-women
To greet a male counterpart, it is generally a male hug or abrazo; this way of greeting is done only when the male counterpart is close to you.

  1. Greet your family members with a kiss on their cheek.
  2. If you have children, make sure they too greet everyone you meet once they have offered their greetings to you.

  1. It is common to greet others with a cheek-kiss, but greeting a woman who is a stranger and elder to you with a cheek-kiss is a faux pas.
  2. Say thank you for even common actions like opening a door, offered something to eat or drink, etc. It is a very good habit to say thank you how small the action is.
  3. Do not try to imitate the accent of the person speaking with you as it is considered rude especially if you know the language.

  1. When men meet their counterpart, they shake hands; men and women greet each other with a cheek-kiss; women greet each other with a cheek-kiss.
  2. Never forget to greet the elders in a family as it is considered insulting and a faux pas if you don’t greet the elders.
  3. In general, public display of love and affection between opposite genders (men and women) is not encouraged.

  1. Greet with a “hello” followed by “Good Day” or “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening” depending on the hour of the day.
  2. Greet with a handshake and kiss. Are you seeing someone whom you know at a distance? If yes, don’t forget to reach them and greet them; a simple wave or verbal salutation is definitely not enough.
  3. Use “Don” or “Dona” when greeting elders; Don for men and Dona for women.

  1. Shake hands to greet others; you can kiss on the cheeks only if they are close acquaintances.
  2. Never forget to greet everyone in a gathering; especially the elders.
  3. If meeting Amerindians, do not kiss or shake hands to greet them instead slightly brush of the hand.

  1. If you are a male and is introduced to a female, make sure you initiate the greeting; kiss on the cheek once followed by a gentle handshake.
  2. When invited to someone’s house make sure you go with a gift and not empty-handed.
  3. During conversations, it is very common to touch each other’s arms or shoulders.

Know the etiquette of the country or place you are visiting and avoid embarrassments.


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