Mexico: Public Behaviour
Acceptable public conduct
Men will shake hands during greetings that may become particularly warm between close friends. Women, however, will often pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder. If they are particularly close, women will hug or kiss each other on the cheek.
Women should initiate handshakes with men.
A gentle grip is all that is required when shaking hands.
Mexican men may exchange a sort of bear-hug, called an "abrazo." It follows a simple but defined protocol. If you find yourself in an abrazo, relax, participate--you have arrived.
Handshakes at the conclusion of a meeting are intended to affirm what was discussed or agreed to. Your Mexican host will probably walk you to the door or elevator.
Conversations occur at a much closer physical distance than you may be accustomed to in the United States. Moving away to establish distance is considered unfriendly. In response, a Mexican will often step forward and close the distance again.
Mexican men are warm, friendly, and may initiate physical contact. They often touch shoulders or hold the arm of another. Withdrawing from these affectionate gestures can be perceived as an insult.
One useful gesture to learn and use is the “abrazo,” a warm hug accompanied by hearty back-slapping, followed by a handshake. The “abrazo” is used among closer male acquaintances; it is welcomed as a sign of good will, a vital asset in Mexican business culture.
Eye contact should be infrequent; avoid looking at others too intently.
Some Mexicans use the “psst-psst” sound to get another's attention in public. In Mexican business etiquette, this is not considered rude.
Men should avoid putting their hands in their pockets when in public.
Putting your hands on your hips signifies that you're making a challenge.
Using the Lord's name in vain, especially in public, is considered deeply offensive to Mexicans.
Use the index finger when gesturing to indicate height. The whole hand is used to indicate the height of an animal.
The “O.K.” gesture with the thumb and index finger is considered vulgar.
In a store, Mexicans pay for their purchases by placing the money directly in the clerk's hand, rather than on the counter. Leaving a payment on the counter is generally rude.
Morning greeting = “Buenos días”, literally "Good day"
Afternoon greeting= “Buenas tardes”"Good Afternoon"
Any time greeting = “Hola”"Hello" OR “Cómo esta?”"How Are You?"
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