Growing up between 3 countries I often found myself in difficult situations, caused by local cultural tolerances to racisms, slang that means different words, hand gestures that offend people in one country but not the other.
There has to be a strategy to minimize embarrassing yourself, and offending other people.
Words that adopted negative meanings because of hostile cultures etc. for example:
- In South Africa the word "maid" should not be used, as it considered highly racist, instead you should say "domestic cleaner".
- Looking Zulu king directly in the eye is a great sign of disrespect and can get you killed.
- In many African tribes men go before woman. To check for danger then call the woman when its safe. Many ethnic Africans consider this true and still do this, opening doors, getting in elevators. They usually get told off but they haven't done anything wrong.
- Showing your index and middle finger the wrong way around either means peace or "f*** you", but not in all countries.
How do I reduce the risk of creating conflict simply because I wasn't aware of the cultural significance of an action I took or neglected to take?