There I was, checking a friend’s status on Facebook, when I was linked to an article at Smithsonian.com about faux pas in foreign lands.
On the surface, it had nothing to do with meeting planning. Then I remembered: yes, wherever they are based, meeting planners DO plan conferences abroad. It reminded me how important it is to be aware of cultures in other countries where you plan to hold your event, rather than be tossed to the wolves.
Who would have guessed that in the UK raising your index and middle finger with the back of your hand facing out (as if to say, “two beers, please”) is the equivalent of giving someone the middle finger? Not me.
Or that, in many Middle East and Far East countries, it’s inappropriate to wear shoes in the house, or show the bottom of your shoes when sitting. (Makes me wonder if that’s why, during political photo ops of our people meeting with their people, everyone in the photo is sitting back straight, with all feet firmly on the ground).
In parts of Europe and South America, our A-OK symbol, the one used by SCUBA divers to indicate everything is good, with your thumb and index finger together to make an ‘O,' is an offensive gesture.
Just a reminder that one of the exciting elements of our work is learning new things and visiting new places. In the end, it pays to know a little bit about your host country.
To learn more about general etiquette blunders, read The (Lost) Art of Welcoming. Also, don't miss Cvent's blogs for event professionals, where you'll be rewarded with new posts (and new ideas) daily: Strategic Meetings Blog, Hospitality Marketing Blog, Web Surveys Blog and Event Planning Blog.