Behavior and Etiquette – Interpersonal Interactions: Tone of voice and Eye contact

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Poise and composure are admired in Afghan society. Drawing attention to one’s self or appearing brash is frowned upon. It is considered rude to raise your voice or show anger to a person in front of others. Afghans find it disgraceful to be rebuked in the presence of others. Do not be directive or bossy when trying to get things done, especially in newly established relationships.  Being overly emotional or "losing your cool" is considered a sign of weakness. Afghans appreciate someone who speaks in a clear, moderate voice. 

Between men, eye contact is acceptable as long as it is not prolonged. It is best to only occasionally look someone in the eyes so as to not appear to be challenging someone. An indirect, non-confrontational approach is always best. If an Afghan does not know an answer to a question or if they are asked about something that they may be embarrassed to admit (for example an error in their work), un-truths may be told to avoid shame. Bringing shame upon a Muslim can have dangerous and sometimes deadly consequences. It is important to understand actions that can shame a Muslim and to avoid those actions whenever possible. For example, correcting an Afghan in public can bring shame. It is considered rude to directly blame someone for failure. Condescending behavior is considered offensive.

Some Afghan adults may very well be illiterate, lack technical skills, or lack an understanding of business or world affairs. What Afghans may lack in formal education, they make up for in sensitivity and perception.  Afghans are highly observant and aware. Humility, good posture, and a conversational tone of voice are all important in dealing with Afghans.

It is taboo to ask questions about Afghan women. Avoid staring at or photographing them. Muslim women gaze downward when speaking to men. They may look down during introductions or even during conversations. Public affection toward someone of the opposite sex, even a simple touching of the hands, should be avoided. Such behavior is considered unacceptable in Muslim societies. It is also considered in poor taste to show an Afghan pictures of your own family if the pictures include your wife or daughters who are of age.

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