Behavior and Etiquette: Introductions, Meeting and Greeting - Part 1

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Pakistan is a hierarchal society that prescribes behavior for each individual according to their age, sex, and social status. The elderly are treated with respect and are thought to have much wisdom. The most senior person in a group, whether by age or position, is expected to make decisions that are in the best interest of the group. While talking to individuals it is important to address them by their title and surname in order to show respect.

Meeting and Greeting
In Pakistan it is important not to approach an unknown person until a third-party can introduce you [1]. Pakistanis like to work with people they know; by having a common party initiate the introduction you are seen as more trustworthy since the third-party is essentially vouching for your character. Greetings are typically only between people of the same sex. An exception to this rule is in the middle class, where greeting the other sex may be permissible [2]. If a male does greet a female, it should be a verbal greeting only. The most common verbal greeting between both sexes is "As-Salamu Alaykum" [Ah-sah-LAHM-ooh uh-LAY-kum], which means "may peace be with you," and is accompanied with a slight bowing of the head. The response would be "Walaykum As-Salamm" [Wah-uh-LAY-kum as-SAH-lahm] which means "and peace be upon you." When meeting a Hindu or Sindhi Muslim in Pakistan, the correct greeting would be "Namaste" [namástay], which means "I bow to you," while bowing slightly with hands pressed together, fingers pointing upwards, and hands in front of the chest [3].

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