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

Viewpoints

Listen to this audio on the importance of shaking hands.

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The hand to the heart gesture is significant and may be useful in a bad circumstance. Watch this video to learn more.

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The Islamic greetings of “as-salamu 'alaykum,” meaning “may peace be with you,” and the reply, “waalaikum as-salaam,” meaning “and peace to you also” are common throughout Afghanistan. However, greetings can differ between urban and rural settings. Afghans in urban areas are usually familiar with Western greetings and handshaking is common.

The handshake is customary in Afghanistan when arriving and leaving.  Handshakes may be used to greet Afghan males, although it is more common to bow (to new acquaintances) or embrace (among friends). Handshakes between men are light-handed, not a test of strength. They are neither too firm nor too weak. Shaking hands with gloves on is disrespectful and insulting to Afghans. Gloves should be removed before shaking hands. A Western woman may extend a hand to an Afghan woman when greeting; however, it is preferable to wait for an Afghan male to offer his hand first. Westernized Afghan males do expect females to shake hands.

Using both hands to shake hands is a show of warmth and sincerity.  Some Afghans may place their right hand over their heart after shaking hands. This gesture is a sign of respect and simply means that the handshake is from the heart. Should an Afghan make this gesture, it is appropriate and expected that the receiver reciprocate. Verbal greetings are often delivered with the right hand over the heart. Listen to a common greeting, (“How are you?”)

 

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