Advice for Travelers: Avoiding the Culture Clash

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Your guide to understanding Others, is a new book to help you avoid the culture clash.

With the second busiest travel season approaching, Abdulilah Hamadi’s new book, A Guide to Understanding Others, offers advice and tips for visitors to other cultures. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, having an understanding of the native culture makes for smoother interactions and less misunderstanding.

As the holiday hustle comes to a close, many people have already begun planning their next big trip as we enter the second busiest travel season of the year. With professionals jetting off to conferences around the globe, students flocking to exotic locales for Spring Break and everyone daydreaming about their summer vacation, we are eager to encounter new, exotic and exciting cultures. While travel sites recommend booking flights early to get the best prices, Abdulilah Hamadi cautions that your first step before visiting a new environment should be a little research.

“Having a clear understanding of other cultures is necessary in order to improve communication and negotiation skills, as well as to avoid conflict and misunderstanding,” says Hamadi in his new book, Your Guide To Understanding OTHERS (ISBN 1411651375). The last thing you want on a vacation or business trip is an awkward or embarrassing situation caused by your ignorance of local customs.

When you travel, Hamadi warns, “you will find out how the ‘usual’ manner in one culture may be considered rude in another culture.” He offers the following examples of simple gestures that can cause a massive breakdown in communication.

1.In the US and many other countries, forming a circle with raised fingers indicates that something is “OK.” In Brazil and Germany, however, it’s an obscene gesture.

2.Raising your palm and moving your fingers in unison may be waving “Good-bye” in many countries but in Nigeria this can be a serious insult if the hand is too close to another person’s face.

3.Nodding your head up and down means “Yes” everywhere but Bulgaria and Greece, where it means “No.”

In addition to gestures, Hamadi cautions that there is differing communication etiquette for transactions in person, over telephone and online as well as acceptable protocol and behavior depending on the society. For the business professional, Hamadi’s guide also includes negotiation tactics tailored to each culture as well as 100 illustrations to help the reader get a firm understanding of the customs presented.

Hamadi’s tips and suggestions are helpful for, as he puts it, “businessmen, students, tourists, negotiators, and anyone interested in understanding people from other cultures.” Though these strategies are helpful for understanding others, they are perhaps most helpful in making yourself understood, without stepping on any toes.


An academic living in Sweden, Your Guide To Understanding OTHERS, is Hamadi’s first published book. Hamadi is a seasoned traveler who has studied cultural differences and compiled the information in this guide from both his own experience as an observer and from his international contacts.

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Abdulilah Hamadi

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