The dictionary definition of hospitality is ‘the friendly and generous treatment of guests or strangers.’
Unfortunately this generosity can be lost to modern thought. Sometimes in the richest of countries the simple act of hospitality to guests from another country or culture is forgotten.
The poorest nation’s people can also be the most hospitable. Most of us have heard stories of people travelling in impoverished countries, finding they have nowhere to stay and being offered the master bedroom in a small overcrowded house for the night; or a large serving of food even though the person offering has little for their own supper.
In much of North America or the UK this selfless hospitality is often perceived as suspicious, and is rarely practised, hence the Westerner distrust of all that is ‘foreign’.
But friendly hospitality offered by a native can often make a trip that extra special experience. So next time you are overseas, don’t consider someone’s kindness is just a ploy to extort money from you, often this is not the case at all.
Here are some of the ways you can politely and graciously accept hospitality across the world.
In Eastern Europe if you are invited to someone’s house ensure that you take a small gift with you as a token of your appreciation; do not comment that you like something in someone’s house as it is likely they will strongly insist upon giving it to you which could lead to you feeling incredibly guilty; and remember eat any food you are offered, it is likely that your host has made an extra special effort with providing the very best cuisine for you, and even is you don’t like it, the experience of eating sheep’s eye, if only once, is an experience that will stay with you forever.
In China there are different customs to which you should try to adhere when accepting someone’s hospitality. When offering gifts to your host, you should ensure that you insist two or three times that they accept the gift, as even if they really want it, it is traditional for the Chinese to refuse so as not to appear greedy.
When you are using chopsticks during a meal ensure, that when you are resting, to place the chopsticks on the chopstick holder and not upright in the bowl of rice as this is considered very rude.
In all Asian houses ensure that you remove your footwear before entering, as this is polite and traditional.
Always remember that a smile and a ‘thank you’ will go a long way to ensuring that you have a great experience. Even if you know very little of your hosts language it impresses and pleases them no end if you try just a few token words; and mispronunciations and strange accents are a sure way to break the ice at any formal dinner.
Catering Services International provide hospitality recruitment Dubai and other services to the hospitality, catering and hotel trade.
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