10 Etiquette Tips When Speaking To Foreigners Overseas


We’ve all felt like we’re lost at sea when we’re overseas before, and that happens for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we don’t know anyone so it’s all a bit overwhelming, maybe we’ve gotten lost and don’t know which way to turn, or it’s just all too much to handle.

As such, we’ve decided to put together a ‘guide’ of sorts that will help readers to learn more about what it means to have a good etiquette when speaking to foreigners abroad.

There are a million and one potential entries you could include here, but we’re tried to narrow it down to ten points that we really want to get across.

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10 Don’t Drink Too Much Beforehand


It kind of goes without saying but if you’re intoxicated, then the odds of you getting a response of any kind from the locals is slim to none.

This also kind of gives off a bad first impression of your own nation, and nobody likes that. There’s a certain intimidation that comes with being drunk in scenarios such as these, and you need to be aware of the risks involved.

If you’re able to act sober then that may be good enough, but nothing is going to remove that lingering scent.

9 Stop Being Condescending


When we say condescending, one of the things we’re talking about is speaking really slowly in order for them to understand you. As you go into this conversation there is a very good chance you have no idea what languages they may or may not speak, and you, therefore, have no idea what kind of response you’re going to get.

So if you dive straight into it with an assumption in your mind of what to anticipate, then you could come out looking like an absolute fool (to put it lightly).

8 Learn A Few Phrases


As a follow-up to the last point, it’s always nice to learn a few phrases if you’re heading somewhere that does typically speak a different language. You could learn the phrase for “Do you speak English” before questioning a few key points that will help you out throughout the course of your trip.

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You might not even need to use any of them depending on how often you’ll be communicating with the locals, but you should have a back-up plan, and this is it.

P.S: don’t worry too much about the pronunciation.

7 Don’t Use Stereotypes


Cracking jokes is one thing but if you start pointedly eating a baguette or a snail in front of a French native, then the chances are pretty good that you’re going to get a smack in the face. At the very least they’re going to feel offended, and there’s no reason whatsoever for you to make them feel that way.

Stereotypes, even if they’re accurate from time to time, are almost always mean and that’s just a fact. They’re used as a way to get a rise out of people and to introduce comedy into situations that, for the most part, don’t even need it.

6 Offer A Handshake


Not everyone is a fan of physical contact and as such, there’s a chance you’ll get some folks that simply do not want to accept a handshake. That’s perfectly reasonable and we can completely understand the logic behind it, but at the same time, it never hurts to put the offer out there.

It’s a sign that you ‘come in peace’, and we don’t mean for that to sound like you’re greeting a bunch of aliens.

It’s nice to be nice and this one should really go without saying for a lot of people.

5 Maintain Eye Contact


Again, we feel the need to repeat ‘it’s nice to be nice’ for this particular entry.

If you are having a conversation with someone overseas, we’re going to assume it’s because you need something. That could be directions, it might be a table at a restaurant, or perhaps just tips on what is good to do and try in the local area.

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With this being the case, we can only suggest that you maintain the art of eye contact when they’re responding to you – because if you don’t, then there’s a good chance they’ll find it pretty rude.

We would, anyway.

4 One At A Time


Firstly: please, do not interrupt the person that is responding to you which, again, should go without saying.

Secondly, don’t try and storm them with a big group of you all going up at once. That can often lead to people talking over one another, in which case you’re never going to get the desired result from the situation.

The ‘too many cooks’ phrase is certainly evident here and while different perspectives can be a good thing in certain walks of life, we don’t believe that to be true here.

3 Try And Remain Patient


If they are taking their time in replying, just keep your composure and remain calm. A language barrier between any two people is bound to cause a certain degree of frustration and we can completely understand the reasoning behind that.

If you either end the conversation early or just decide it isn’t worth your time and walk off, then that doesn’t exactly paint you or your group in the best of lights.

It’s always worth remembering that this is a foreign country, and that treating folks with respect costs nothing.

2 Don’t Catch Them Off Guard


If you’re going to approach somebody that you don’t know, then ensure that you aren’t just popping up on them like a jump scare. Approach them in a normal and chilled out manner, instead of instinctively launching into their path because you’ve spent the last few minutes debating with your pals as to who should get the conversation going.

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It’s not like you’re going to be attacking them or anything like that, but as a complete stranger, it’s important that your designated communicator treats the locals with a bit of class.

1 Use Your Manners


It’s simple: please and thank you, or the translatable equivalents.

These are two very short and very simple phrases that could be the difference between you having a nice meal and getting spit in your food.

We’re exaggerating, of course, but uttering these words shouldn’t be viewed as a strenuous activity – even though the majority of people, travelers especially, tend to leave them out of their vocabulary bag before jetting off.

We don’t roll like that, especially when you consider the fact that you are a guest over there. Don’t be a party pooper.

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