There are a variety of common courtesies that Americans should observe when in Mexico. Some of the important issues of cultural etiquette are described herein. When in Mexico Americans should refrain from calling themselves "Americans." Mexicans consider themselves Americans too since the whole continent is called America. Another part of Mexican culture that may be shocking to American's traveling there is the way machismo is verbalized by male members of Mexican society. Making sexual or derogatory remarks at women is a typical part of the culture and should not be seen as harassment. Wearing a wedding band and mentioning children usually will stop these types of comments. Attempting to speak Spanish even if your Spanish is not good is appreciated. When speaking in English slang and idioms should be avoided. Using broken English does not aid communication and can be seen as offensive. Many Mexicans speak English but many more read English. If possible, a written copy of what you are saying should be provided. Mexicans do not often say no because it is considered impolite. Consequently, it is important that you recognize this and look for other clues as to what the real answer is. If a Mexican says maybe it is a good indicator that the answer is definitely no. Asking for a yes or no response to a specific question repeatedly is tolerated but you must be patient because it will take a while before the real answer comes out. People stand much closer to each other in Mexico. It is considered unfriendly to back up when a Mexican approaches you in conversation. You must be aware of the tone of voice you use when in Mexico. Using a quick pace or a sharp or forceful tone will make you come across unfavorably. Eye contact is not as direct or long as in the United States. Mexicans are status conscientious so what you wear or what you drive makes a clear statement about who you are in society. When attending a social event you should arrive 30 minutes late. Arriving earlier is considered rude. At small parties your host will introduce you. At large parties you may introduce yourself. When dining you should not sit until you are told where to sit and you should not eat until the hostess starts. It is polite to keep both of your hands visible while eating and to leave some food on your plate when finished. Only men are permitted to give toasts.
The traditional greetings used in Mexico vary depending on the sex of the participants and the amount of time they have known each other. It is important to greet each member of a group individually. Women will pat each other on the forearm or shoulder as an initial greeting where men use the handshake in situations where they are greeting someone for the first time. Handshakes consist of a gentle grip and a quick sharp shake. After men develop a relationship hugs or back slapping called abrazo replace the handshake. Women will progress to a series of air kisses on the cheek. Air kissing is also the appropriate greeting between a man and a woman who know each other. The first kiss is in the air near the left cheek and the second is in the air near the right cheek. Unmarried women receive an additional kiss as a wish for marriage. Receiving an abrazo or air kiss is an indicator that you have been accepted into the group. These traditional Mexican greeting are indicative of gender characteristics. Females are supposed to act open while men are expected to act closed. Foreigners should politely accept these greetings from Mexicans but should not initiate a move from one greeting to the next. This is especially important for an American man who is greeting a Mexican female. The American man should never initiate the air kisses as it may be interpreted as sexual advance which damages the women's honor and her partner's machismo. Women are even expected to initiate a handshake with men. It is important to wait until invited to call a Mexican by his or her first name because of the...
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