Ethiopian Guest House a great place to stayand put your dollars

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ethiopian Customs

Great tips. Hijacked from Jenny who got it off of Meg DeZutti's blog (which she hijacked off another blog):

•Etiquette is very important in Ethiopia, both socially and in business.
•If you take photos of the people, ask first and offer to show them their picture if you have a digital camera with a display screen. Children enjoy seeing their pictures a lot of the time!
•Be polite but not intrusive. It is OK to ask questions of the locals, but you should be prepared to be hassled a LOT of the time if you are white.
•The most common form of greeting is a handshake with direct eye contact.
•Across genders, men should wait to see if a woman extends her hand.
•People are addressed with their honorific title and their first name.
•Elders should be greeted first.
•It is customary to bow when introduced to someone who is obviously older or has a more senior position. Children will often be seen doing so.
•Greetings should never be rushed. Take time to inquire about the person’s family, health, job, etc.
•Ethiopians respect their elders and visitors should show the same courtesy.
•Tipping: Tourist hotels and restaurants usually add a 10% service charge to the bill. Otherwise tipping is fairly common, but only small amounts are customary.
• The Ethiopian Highlands are mainly Orthodox Christian and restaurants do not serve meat dishes on Wednesdays, Fridays and during Lent.
•Shoes should be removed before entering mosques and churches. You may have to remove your shoes at the door no matter where you enter.
•Photographs should not be taken of military buildings and airports, and permission should be asked before photographing religious festivals and people.
•There is generally no touching between the sexes; however, if a foreign businesswoman extends her hand, a cosmopolitan Ethiopian may accept it to avoid causing her offense.
•Gifts are given with two hands or the right hand only; never the left hand.
•Do not bring alcohol unless you know that your host drinks. Most Muslims and Amharic people do not.
•Since Ethiopia is an extremely poor country, expensive gifts are not the norm.
•Giving a gift that is too expensive may be viewed negatively. It may be seen as an attempt to garner influence or it may embarrass the recipient as they will not be able to match it in kind.
•An invitation to a private home should be considered an honour.
•Do not presume that because food is eaten with the hands, there is a lack of decorum.
•Dress well.
•Punctuality is not strictly adhered to although considerable lateness is also unacceptable.
•You will always be offered a cup of coffee. It is considered impolite to refuse.
•Always sip the coffee slowly.
•Only use the right hand for eating.
•Expect a small earthenware or metal jug to be brought to the table before the meal is served. Extend your hands over the basin while water is poured over them.
•The meal ends with ritual hand-washing and coffee.
•Hierarchy dictates that the eldest person is the first to take food from the communal plate.
•Expect to be urged to take more food. Providing an abundance of food is a sign of hospitality.
Communication Style:
As a general rule, they are humble and respect that quality in others. They generally speak in soft tones. Loud voices are seen as too aggressive. Ethiopians pride themselves on their eloquent speaking style and expect others to speak clearly and use metaphor, allusion, and witty innuendos. They often use exaggerated phrases to emphasize a point.

As a rule, Ethiopians tend to be non-confrontational and offer what they believe is the expected response rather than say something that might embarrass another. Honour and dignity are crucial to Ethiopians and they will go out of their way to keep from doing something that could bring shame to another person. Therefore, it is important to treat Ethiopian citizens with respect and never do anything that would make them lose dignity and respect.

No comments: