Jamaica: Public Behaviour


Public Behaviour

How should you greet strangers or introduce yourself

Most people will find themselves at some point introducing various individuals at an event, especially when they are the ones who will be expected to know all parties. But what’s the order of introductions? In Jamaica there are some simple rules to remember:

• Introduce lower ranking individuals to higher ranking individuals.

• Remember to include titles (e.g., Dr., Judge, etc.) and name prefix (e.g., Mr., Mrs. Ms.),

• Add a brief comment about the person that is of interest to the higher ranking individual.

What are the roles for men shaking hands with women

At a first meeting a regular handshake will do. Jamaicans tend to share a light kiss on the cheek with family, friends and close acquaintances. Always upon arrival and departure greet everyone with a firm, sincere handshake, a friendly smile and direct eye contact.

What gestures/sayings should you avoid

Avoid talking about politics and homosexuality. Jamaicans are direct and they speak their minds. Although outwardly friendly and warm toward acquaintances, Jamaicans may not immediately express an interest in doing business. Value, respect, sensitivity and tact are highly esteemed. They value relationship building and harmony so avoid hard selling, pressure tactics and any sort of conflicts or confrontation.

Jamaicans are most comfortable at arms lengths from one another, however with family and friends the space is much closer. Jamaicans may communicate with gestures such as touching the arm or the shoulder of the person they are talking to.

What are the rules for eye contact?

Jamaicans prefer direct eye contact. Avoiding eye contact can be viewed as suspicious behaviour or that you are not trustworthy. Maintain direct eye contact as much as possible, and especially for major points or to confirm agreement.